April 29, 2012

Orientation

Thursday morning the students were up early and waiting for breakfast, partly due to the 2 hour time difference from Goshen.  The students seem to be very punctual as they were always early to everything!  (only for now?) After breakfast, we had a short time of worship and singing before starting orientation.  We introduced Dalena, our in-country assistant and discussed the schedule (and how to be flexible!), academics, Nicaraguan culture, safety, health issues, expectations, and shared host family information with the students for the first time.  We finished early enough for most to catch a siesta before supper.

After supper, we found places to sit and chat and to play some exciting games of euchre and dutch blitz. We had planned an optional activity of dancing, and all the students wanted to go.  Martin (our bus driver) and Julio (our ayudante) picked us up and took us to Fandango.  We were able to see some professional dancers that were going to participate in a national fundraising event the next day for children with special needs.  There were several well known Nicaraguan artists there and one dancer taught those who were willing (all of our students!) some basic salsa moves.  While waiting for the dancers, several students got on the dance floor to try out their best bachata, merengue, and salsa moves. Everyone had a wonderful time and most had no problems sleeping that night.

On Friday morning the bus was back to take us to Quinta Goshen (unit house) in Jinotepe.  Students finally were able to see some of the Nicaraguan countryside during daylight hours.

After we unloaded the bus, Martin and Julio helped get some of the coconuts down from palm trees in the unit house back yard.  After several creative attempts of climbing the palm trees, we had 40-50 coconuts on our lawn.  Students enjoyed watching Martin chop the coconuts down with his machete and then try the coconut water of those that cracked open.  We had some young coconuts which had a lot of water and the meat was softer than the riper coconuts.  We all had a lot of fun trying the different parts of the young and ripe coconuts.

We talked about a few last minute items before setting off on a walking tour of Jinotepe and a lesson on public transportation.  We walked to one of the many bus stops in Jinotepe and waited until an empty microbus (15+passenger van) pulled up.  All 23 students, Deanna, Keri, and Dalena, piled into the microbus.  Local university students watched with amazement and wondered why these North Americans wanted to experience the crowded public transportation.  The chofer told us that he had only ever had 17 people in his microbus and that we had set the new record.  We got quite a few looks as we all climbed out in Diriamba, a town 10 minutes away were several students live.  We walked around the central park and saw the government giving away lamina (tin for the roof) to those in need.  We returned to Jinotepe where we walked to UCN (where afternoon classes will be held) and to CEPAD (where morning Spanish classes will be held) and then home to a typical Nicaraguan meal made by Conny, Quinta Goshen’s housekeeper/cook.  All the walking and orientation activities exhausted all the students and soon we had pulled out all of our mattresses so that students could take another siesta.  Some walked into town to exchange money and use a cyber cafe and before they knew it, the families started arriving to pick them up (see previous post!)

We have seen or heard from nearly every student this weekend and all seem to be doing well adjusting to their new families.  It will be exciting to hear about all the new experiences they had this weekend when they gather for their first Spanish class tomorrow.

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