By Conor Sanchez
Everyone, this is Bayron – one of the coolest teachers east of Lake Nicaragua and a proud resident of Nueva Guinea.
Bayron only officially became my counterpart a few weeks ago, however, we have actually been working together on various projects since my first few weeks in Nueva Guinea. Not one to sit around and wait for opportunities to come his way, Bayron uses his charismatic personality and optimistic can-do attitude to get things done. Whether it’s pushing himself to improve his English or trying to improve the quality of education in his community, his passion for what he does is palpable from the moment you meet him.
Bayron works seven days a week. Monday through Friday he’s at one of the city’s biggest high schools, Instituto Ruben Dario, and on weekends he’s at Martin Lutero Universtiy, the second largest university in Nueva Guinea. Everyday, he rides his motorcycle in from a community called Los Angeles, located about five miles outside Nueva Guinea. He’s been teaching English for about five years.
What I really like most about Bayron is how much this dude likes to read. He’ll read just about anything he can get his hands on. One day, at the English Community Center, he picked up a book about Dr. Martin Luther King and several months later, during his school’s English Festival, his students were performing a drama about Dr. King’s life, which Bayron had adapted from the book. I gave him a copy of New Yorker Magazine, which he read cover to cover in a few days. He’s now reading the popular young adult novel Divergent, the first in a series of three books that have also been turned into movies.
He doesn’t shy away from talking politics, either. “I believe Hillary will be your next president,” he told me recently.
“We’ll see,” I said.
“No, she will. I saw what Donald Trump said about Latinos,” he replied.
I didn’t know whether to put my palm to my face or high five the guy.
He constantly asks me about topical issues in the U.S. like health care insurance, gay rights, and (unfortunately) Donald Trump. I wondered where he was getting all this information, and one day he showed me that he downloads videos of President Obama’s speeches to help him with his English. “I love his accent,” he says. “It is so clear and easy to understand.”
The best part about working with Bayron is that it doesn’t actually feel like work. He introduces me as his friend and recently he’s started to organize karaoke nights for English teachers. Part of me thinks he does this mostly to show off his belting skills of 80’s pop music like Billy Joel and Bonnie Tyler, but hey – when you got it, flaunt it.
As part of my Hello USA series, I’m pleased to introduce you to Bayron. In his own words, here he is:
Tell me a little a bit about who you are and where you are from.
I was born in San Lorenzo, Boaco. It is located 86 kilometers from the capital. My family moved to Nueva Guinea when I was 4. But when I was 6, my family set out to live in Tipitapa near Managua. I began my primary school there. At the age of ten years old, my family moved again, this time to Nueva Guinea. I finished my primary study at San Francisco de Asís School in 2000. Two years later, I began studying my secondary school and in 2008, I started studying my English degree.
Why did you set out to study English?
Because when I was in eighth grade of high school, some North American people came to my school and my English teacher interpreted what they said in both languages. We did not have lots of English teachers in our city at that time. We had three of them in total. From that moment, I set my sights on learning English as a second language. I have to say that I am a lucky man. My dreams have been coming true from that time. At this moment, I am one of the English teachers in our city. Nueva Guinea city no longer has three English teachers. It has more than three. For that reason I decided to study my English degree.
What do you love most about Nicaragua?
We have so many beautiful places, and yet, many of us have not visited them. Pochomil, for example, is close to Rivas. It is a beach where you can swim, surf, ride on a horse, or play soccer. Recently, I visited Laguna de Apoyo. I love this place because it is calm and peaceful. You can go there to relax, have a good time, and become familiar with nature. In this place, there are a lot of sports that people can play. One day, I want to visit Laguna de Perla on the Atlantic Coast because I´ve heard it is an amazing place. A teacher from Bluefields has told me about it. I also want to go to San Juan Del Sur.
What makes Nueva Guinea unique from other parts of Nicaragua?
Well, what makes us unique is that we have different ways of making a living in our city. For example, we have some people that farm the land. They grow some products such as: beans, rise, cassava, corn and so forth. We are also nice, friendly and clever people.
What inspired you to become an English teacher?
I set out to become an English teacher because my city had three of them eight years ago. I wanted to communicate with native English speakers and to help some other people who want to learn to speak English as a second language.
Why did you want to work with a Peace Corps Volunteer?
I heard about Peace Corps like four years ago, when a couple named Joe and Liz came here. That was my first time that I knew the Peace Corps programs existed. I did not have any idea about this until they came here. And then another volunteer came. All of them have been friendly and they came here, talked with English teachers, and they wanted to help our English skills. For that reason, I wanted to work with Peace Corps Volunteer.
If there were one thing you wished Americans knew about you or your country, what would it be?
I wish Americans knew how wonderful and amazing Nicaragua country is. Words are not enough to describe my city and the whole country.