On Monday, October 8th, a member of our chapter is moving to Central America! We at EWB-Detroit have obtained exclusive rights to the story:
EWB-DETROIT: Let’s start by telling us who you are and what you do in our chapter.
BRAD GALO: My name is Brad Galo. I am the Chapter Vice President and member of the Nicaragua Project team.
EWB: And you’re actually moving to Nicaragua, is that correct? What’s that all about?
BG: Yes, that’s right. I have worked on the Nicaragua project for four years and have traveled to the community of Laguna de Apoyo three times. Over the years I have grown fond of the people and of the place itself. I am moving there so I can do more to support the community.
EWB: Are you moving there for good?
BG: No, I actually took a 9-month sabbatical from work to invest in myself and to give back. I will spend a month in Guatemala, then I plan to spend 5-6 months living in Nicaragua, working with a nonprofit there.
EWB: What is the nonprofit?
BG: It is called Proyecto CocoMango, which is our NGO for the Nicaragua project, as well. The team there focuses on helping the community in four main areas: Education, Arts, Community Development, and Environment.
EWB: Which area will you be helping with?
BG: Actually, I hope to help with two! I will be helping with education by teaching after-school English classes at the primary school, as well as teaching literacy to an adult in the community. I hope to also work with Proyecto CocoMango and the community on a few ideas in the Community Development space…more to come on that.
EWB: Sounds like you’ll have a lot on your plate. Didn’t you just hold a fundraiser for the community, too?
BG: Yes, the fundraiser was called “Losing My Hair for Good,” where I cut and dyed my hair in a crazy way–a platinum blonde “Friar Tuck”–to help send kids in the community to high school.
EWB: How did it go?
BG: I’m really proud to say that we have raised enough money to send the entire community of 26 kids to high school this year!
EWB: Tell me about moving to Nicaragua. How do you decide what to take with you?
BG: Well, I won’t be able to take much with me, trying to figure out what I will bring is a bit challenging. I’m used to having so much more than I need at my fingertips at all times…it’s tough letting go. I now have what I think is a pretty concise list, but I’m sure is still too much! I’m trying to only pack things that I can’t buy when I get there. I plan to practice photography while I’m there, too, so I will need to bring some basic camera equipment in addition to the essentials.
EWB: What else do you need to do to prepare for your trip?
BG: I needed to make sure I’m up-to-date on all of my immunizations, get traveler’s health insurance, buy my first pair of hiking boots, put my cell phone plan on hold, sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), set up lodging in-country, and read the State Department’s Travel Information pages for Guatemala and Nicaragua.
EWB: What’s the most challenging part about your move so far?
BG: For me, I think it’s the uncertainty. It feels like I have a good framework of a plan, but I always think I’m missing something. I’ve also never lived overseas before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect.
EWB: If you had one piece of advice to give to anyone who is planning to move overseas, what would it be?
BG: Reach out to the savvy travelers in your life and pick their brains. You know who those people are! They have been in your shoes and they will be happy to help you.
You can find more information on Proyecto CocoMango at www.proyectococomango.org. To see the latest from Brad on his travels, you can follow him on Instagram at brad_thanimal or visit www.bradgalo.com/blog.