The ISLA Experience: Nick Mitchell
My Name is Nicholas Mitchell, I’m from Williamsburg, Virginia and I currently work in Washington D.C. as a software developer for a governmental contracting company. Before I moved to Washington, I lifeguarded in Corolla, which is the northern most city in the outer banks of North Carolina. I like to surf and be in the ocean whenever I can get the chance, and will hopefully be moving closer to a beach in the near future.
The Nicaragua trip marked my first trip with ISLA. And I only have good things to say about the organization. I could not believe how well prepared and organized this trip was. Every volunteer was 100% dedicated to the cause. This truly speaks volumes about the future direction of this organization. I can’t wait to volunteer for the next ISLA trip.
I originally heard about ISLA from Mike Hudson, my captain at Corolla Ocean Rescue. Mike had attended multiple trips and volunteers with ISLA year-round. He described an organization that sends volunteer lifeguards to beaches in need and also gives back to the local community by offering training.
The idea of being able to go to a beautiful country like Nicaragua, and share my lifeguarding knowledge/experience was so enticing that I instantly said yes.
And as much as I thought that I would be teaching them, the Nicaraguan people taught me so much. There was one instance where a spotter stayed out on the beach all day standing on a 10 foot high platform without shade, sunscreen, sunglasses, and he was fully clothed. He did such a great job at signaling to us when a person looked in distress or needed help. At the end of the day I talked to him and asked him, in my broken Spanish, “How are you able to stay out here so long?” His response, in broken English, was, “I do it for the people; they are the reason I stay out here”.
Hearing this was so humbling; I could not believe how selfless the Nicaraguans are towards each other. They go above and beyond to look out for one another. This compassion for others is something that is often forgotten amid the deadlines, responsibilities, and duties of our daily lives. But this trip and the people I met were a reminder of how we should strive to live each day and how caring for each other is one of the most important things we can do.