Meet our incredible, outdoorsy, jovial, caring and music connoisseur Program Development Intern, Nicholas. Hailing from Texas, this high-spirited Swiss-American young man is the most gentle and well-travelled soul we’ve ever met. A major in Political Science and Anthropology from University of Colorado at Boulder, Nick has also earned an MA in International Development from the University of Sheffield in the UK. He’s traveled through Central America, Colombia, and has lived on every continent besides Asia. As a long term volunteer for LLI, Nick runs and teaches reading, chess and math programs. He’s also conducting research for an Impact Analysis Study, and this December, he’ll be completing one year with us.
Nick is one of those amazing human beings you rarely meet in your life-journey, who can help you see things clearly. The first thing that comes to mind is his heart. He has a big heart and is always thinking about the kids first. Kids really bring a smile to his face, and leave it to Nick to entertain, teach, even discipline kids the best. No kid will get away with a wimpy summary of a book during biblioteca (library time). Not with Nick. He’ll egg them along, give them advice, ask them questions, but always strive for their best.
When asked about his two favorite things about teaching, he says, “First, a room full of reading children… many of them, especially the younger ones read slightly out-loud and the sound of children reading like this is a symphony to my ears. And second is, when a child understands something new, this is most evident in math when they finally understand a new concept and their face lights up with excitement and joy.”
“During my 2 wonderful weeks at LLI, he was very kind to guide me in empathizing with the children. During the same time, I have come to know him as a genuine and fun-filled person who has the most rare collection of music that I have ever seen,” says Pushkar.
Carlos remembers, “When he came to Zone Z 232 one day and even though it wasn’t really his responsibility, he still helped out by sweeping the floor and sharpening the pencils. This told me a lot about his character. He’s a great roommate that is always joking around and I’ve enjoyed getting a chance to know him. I still remember the day when I woke up and he had “gently” thrown a water bottle in my direction due to my snoring.”
Whether it’s a lesson on how to climb up to the rooftop with a big load of laundry, or a demo on how to climb a mountain, Nick has the tools for every trade. He’s the resident mountain climbing expert—Heck he’s basically half man and half Billy goat. If you want to grab Nick’s attention, ask him about outdoor gear. Like anything, ask him about backpacks, headlamps, camping tents, emergency axes– whatever. He’ll light up and give you the most intense and knowledgeable lesson on proper outdoors gear. He will bring down his backpacks and have you try it on to experience the different weights. It’s not difficult to make him happy, give him something to fix, somewhere to hike, something awesome to read, or a new problem to solve– Nick will get it done.
An incredible friend, he shows his love in the smallest but most meaningful of ways. He’ll plop a plastic bag of fresh squeezed orange juice on your desk if you’re sick, he’ll be the first to take over your class if he sees you need it, he’ll tuck a lollipop into your suitcase, or be the first to notice if you’re feeling blue. Even though there are hardly any buses in Huaycán that are large enough for Nick to stand, he will be the first person to give up his seat for anyone who needs it.
On LLI fridays aka Tuesdays, do not be surprised if you hear LOUD rap, country, spanish songs blaring through the house. This is Nick announcing to the world that it is Light and Leadership Friday.
He has a way of making any situation fun. He is truly the master of fun and lightens the mood anywhere he goes— both in the volunteer house and with the kids. Samantha recalls, “When we did parent-teacher check-ins, he was always so vibrant and outgoing, you can tell that the Huaycan community is really comfortable with him!”
Karolyn says, “If he’s not playing with the adorable Riana in Zone Z 232, he is treating the house to a wonderful homemade breakfast.”
Karen adds, “He will be the first to be strong in a tough situation, first to identify potential problems, and the first to figure out a solution. It’s like his mind is on a never-ending treadmill, constantly exercising. Imagine a big old brother who likes to act like he doesn’t care, who teases everyone, and who scares you sometimes because he’s so tall and has strong character, that’s Nick. But inside, he is a big sweetie who genuinely cares about the world’s issues, about people, and about doing his part to help.”
Nick, our dearest friend, we wish you all the best for the future!! Always stay the cool guy that you are!
— Entire LLI family!