Why Settle 3,400 Miles Away?


You never know how much influence you may have on a person. Or how many people or cultures that could be impacted by that influence.  This is the case with Jesse Zimmerman ’07, who has settled 3,400 miles away from his hometown of Fredericksburg, VA.

Jesse graduated from Fredericksburg Christian School after having attended for eight years.  Teachers and administrators at FCS, such as Jerry Gideon and  Principal Sharon Roper, had an effect on Jesse’s life. “They take time out of their lives to actually pour into students.  It’s the hearts of people that make up the school.” While at FCS, Jesse studied Spanish and, in his Junior Year, had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Uruguay.  These experiences played a part in his future.

After graduation, Jesse earned a BA in Foreign Affairs with a concentration in Latin America from University of Virginia.  He then spent a year working in Managua, Nicaragua and fell in love with the people there.  Going back to the U.S. he earned his Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Georgia and married his best friend, Anna.  Together they moved to Peru for 18 months.  But he always wanted to go back to Managua.

In early 2016, they each took a job working for Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI) – a non-profit that focuses on Zika, Chikungunya, dengue, and influenza research.  Anna works as an epidemiologist and Jesse as the Public Administration Financial and Program Manager.  Jesse’s job requires him to write grants, manage grants that are awarded to SSI, and do general accounting (such as books, payroll, and taxes).  They love being able to work together.

Jesse and Anna are adjusting to life in Nicaragua very well.  They are in the process of fixing up a house and they have made friends.  “I feel very comfortable here with my Nicaraguan friends, more comfortable than living in the United States at this point,” says Jesse.

When asked how life in Nicaragua is different than the U.S., he said, “There are things you take for granted in the U.S., like a specific set of rules that here are much more fluid.  Like getting your dog out of customs: it depends on who you talk to that particular day,” explains Jesse. “That is the toughest thing.” Jesse continued, “There is also no real separation of church and state.  Nicaragua considers themselves to be a Christian nation.  For example, today (December 7) is the celebration of the conception of Jesus and schools are closed.”

Talking to Jesse it is very clear he is exactly where he wants to be, and doing exactly what he wants to do – even 3,400 miles away.