June 15, 2010

Endings & Beginnings

Nicaragua SSTers 2010 know how to host a fun party! The evening of Thursday, June 10, found everyone cleaned up, dressed up, and ready for some fun — time for the traditional departure party, the despedida.  This party is one way the students thank their host families, Spanish professors, and other supporters of the study portion of Nicaragua SST as well as mark the ending of the first half of SST.  Skits and singing gave our students an opportunity to share some of their unending good humor, as well as demonstrate their Spanish language skills.  The University of Central Nicaragua, Jinotepe branch dance club even joined us to share several traditional dances from El Güegüense. Afterward, various members of the audience commented to me (Jeanne) how impressed they were with the students and the despedida.  The SSTers served the crowd of ~150: cake, fruit salad, and fanta — before hurrying home to finish packing for …

Departure for service assignments the following morning!  The previous two years have taught us that connecting with service families and agencies goes much more smoothly on a Friday than on a Saturday.  So the first busload of students departed Casa de Goshen at 7:30 AM Friday, bound for two different bus terminals in Managua and points beyond.  Two more students left by taxi about an hour later, and the final three were loaded onto a microbus around 9:30 AM.  By 1:30 PM, we’d heard that every student had reached his or her destination safely. ¡Whew!

For the next 6 weeks, all but one of the students are living with a new host family, in a new setting, volunteering their time and energies in various organizations and roles. Ana, Isaac, & Joel are teaching English in León; Greta and Deanna are working with a women’s paper-making cooperative in Estelí; Daniel and Lisa W are volunteering at a malnutrition program in Matagalpa; Kristen and Annali are working in a feeding program, also in Matagalpa; Logan and Phil are working for an organic coffee farmer near San Ramón in the department of Matagalpa; Reuben is working with a public health clinic in La Concha in the department of Masaya; Alisha and Jalisa are volunteering at an orphanage for children with developmental disabilities in San Antonio Sur, just outside Managua; Lisa H is working in the community of Santa Julia, El Crucero; Austin and Jacob are working with reforestation efforts near Laguna de Apoyo; and finally, Anne is staying on with her original host family to teach English in Diriamba.

In two weeks, we will start service visits, taking about two weeks to visit each student once at his/her service site.  (We will strive to take — and post — photos of each student in his/her service setting.) Between now & then, our tasks shift to finish documenting the first six weeks, and providing oversight from afar as necessary. Once service visits are completed, only two weeks of SST will remain, and we’ll be focusing on endings all around.

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