A Yogi Builds Schools in Nicaragua

This blog by Julianne Mesaric was originally published in the PHILAbroads on April 16. Julianne is one of many Philadelphia-based yogis raising money to build two buildOn schools in Nicaragua with the Beyond Asana Yoga Teacher Training.

The road more or less traveled in Nicaragua.

The road more or less traveled in Nicaragua.

“You used to dance,” she said to me from the front of the room. I gazed up at her from my crossed-legged position on the floor and nodded my head. “I used to dance, ballet mostly,” I confirmed.

“I see you dancing,” she continued, doing an awkward waltz to strengthen her point, then laughed, apologized for her lack of coordination. “You’re in the middle of a circle of children patting them on the head,” she continued, “You’re protecting them. Why did you turn this opportunity down?”

Flustered, I racked my brain for what this stranger could possibly be referring to. “I don’t know?” I offered.

“You’re going to build schools. Like Oprah,” she said definitively, snapping closed the book on the prediction for the next chapter in my life before moving on to the next person in the crowd.

Some people carefully make plans, weighing the pros and cons of the risks and benefits on their decision chart, researching and reading and editing until they have the most logical answer. I consider the advice of psychics.

I let the prediction go, but realized a few weeks later what she was talking about. In January, I had been discussing work with a yoga teacher and traveling with a group of yoga teacher trainees to Nicaragua to build a school for children. But, in January, I had plans to move to California, and I backed out of working with the teacher and the training. I turned the offer down.

I used to dance. Sometimes I still do. Big, brazen dances with strong arms and elongated legs. That creative energy is contained within my four walls in my room, even though I often yearn to break it out and bring the wild dance to the streets.

As January fell into February, which turned into March, I started to be pulled in a direction that could allow me to use more of this creativity: to write, to generate ideas, and to share what I know. I chose not to move to California. I wanted to jump into something else: a project, anything. I wrote to the yoga teacher and asked if I could have a do-over. I wanted in.
50 percent of students in buildOn are female

As of today, I’m at the 40 hour mark in the 200 hours I need to be a certified yoga teacher, though explaining what we’re doing in those terms minimizes the growth and openness that this training is provoking in me, in 11 other women – and in one calm, anchoring man.

As a group, we’re raising over $100,000 with buildOn to build two schools for children in two villages in Nicaragua. The schools will double as hurricane shelters. The kiddos we will build for are currently taking classes, but they don’t have a quality building where they can learn. As of now, their school looks something like this:

No one is saying that what happens inside of this school is any less important than in any other school, but the village wants a new, bigger, sturdier school so that even more kids can learn and read and play in a safe space. And the kids deserve it. The new school will look something like this:

We will be in the village for a week in February 2014. During that time will get to know the people who live there. We will eat together and play together and build the school together. I predict we might even dance together. I hope we do.

My portion of the school fundraising efforts is $5,000. For more information about the Beyond Asana buildOn Project in Nicaragua and to donate, please visit my fundraising page.