Recent Posts

July 9, 2014

Anna is living and working in La Garnacha, a campesino community just south of the city of Estelí. Her host family, whom she describes as “wonderful,” runs an organic farm in this mountainous area. She writes, “Most days of the week I hike down to the farm, work [in the field] until early afternoon, and have a 30-40 hike back up to my house.” On Fridays she accompanies her host father in to the farmer’s market in Estelí, where they sell the produce grown on the farm. “I have learned a lot about agriculture [and] living without running water,” she…

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July 9, 2014

Drea and Jake are stationed in the city of Matagalpa at two different service organizations. Drea spends her days at Infancia sin Fronteras (Children without Borders), a Spanish NGO whose focus is “to create the conditions for development and peaceful coexistence of peoples; and lessen the effects of war and natural disasters on the civilian population.” Within this framework, the organization focuses on children and mothers, “the most vulnerable social groups” in society. Programming at the Matagalpa facility includes after-school activities such as music lessons and arts and crafts. ”On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays I make piñatas with the kids…

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July 9, 2014

Last week and this week we have been traveling to visit the students at their service locations. We’re not quite done with the traveling and visiting, but we’ve got much to show and tell! We’ll start with Brad and Anika, who work and live in the mountainous northern department and city of Jinotega. The organization where they are volunteering is Los Pipitos, a national agency that assists people with disabilities and their families. Brad and Anika divide their time between working with adults at the Pipitos office and children at the nearby Centro de Educación Temprana (Center for Early Education),…

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July 3, 2014

No, it’s not the World Cup, but it was quite an evening only three weeks ago now (it seems much longer ago than that), when GC students and Carazo host families joined a local soccer team in Diriamba for a series of brief matches that left us smiling, breathless and hungry. Organized and officiated by Alisa’a host dad, Rafael, the games were a big hit for those who played as well as those who cheered from the sidelines. Afterward we invited the Diriamba team and host family members to join us for a well-earned pizza dinner across from the central…

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June 21, 2014

Lectures

Although much of our learning during the first six weeks was experiential, guest lectures and readings added both depth and breadth to our country study. In addition to the initial series of lectures on Nicaraguan history by Aynn Setright, we attended charlas (talks) on gender relations, literature, religion, and economic development, among others. One of our favorite presentations was by César Octavio Aburto and Humberto Narvaez, both of whom participated in the National Literacy Campaign of 1980. Both were teens at the time (César was 13, Humberto was 18), and along with 95,000 other youth they went out into the…

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June 14, 2014

Our first six weeks has come and gone so fast, and it’s already time for some goodbyes. Last night we thanked our Carazo families and friends with a farewell dinner and program (despedida), and the students did a wonderful job of planning, decorating, acting, singing, and serving the meal to all those who have welcomed them and helped them adjust to life in Nicaragua over the past six weeks. The evening was filled with music, dancing, laughter, and reminiscing, not to mention a scrumptious meal prepared by Conny, the incredible cook who has been keeping the students well-fed at our semi-weekly…

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June 13, 2014

And they’re off!

Earlier today our 22 students “flew the [Carazo] coop,” so to speak, and although we’ll miss them, we’re excited to see what the next six weeks will bring! We’ll post more details shortly, but for now we’ll just share share this news and give a glimpse of where they’re all headed…

June 6, 2014

We started this week with what has become a tradition of the Nica SST experience: dance lessons. From folkloric to bachata, cumbia to Palo de Mayo, dance is an integral part of Nicaraguan culture, and we’ve seen a lot of it in the month we’ve been here. Monday afternoon we learned that trying a few steps ourselves is quite another level of immersion. Under the excellent tutelage of professional dance instructors Andres and Michele, we learned to recognize the underlying rhythmic pattern of salsa music (hint: listen for the clave), the proper posture, and the basic Cuban salsa step (Guapea)….

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June 6, 2014

Our final excursion last week was a trip to Gaia Estates, an organic coffee and certified bird-friendly farm located outside of Diriamba. This 90-acre farm run by Jefferson Shriver grows coffee beans as well as vanilla beans, avocados, zapote and cinnamon. Gaia Estates is a true organic farm in that no chemical pesticides or fungicides are used in the production of the crops, and conservation of the land is a high priority for the owners. Jefferson took us on an hour-long hike around the farm, showing us the products in their natural environment. Jefferson also explained the idea of agroforestry…

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June 3, 2014

For our next trip the students learned a bit about the various folk and cultural traditions unique to Diriamba by visiting la Casa de Cultura (The Culture House) and a local Güegüense doll maker. The tour at la Casa De Cultura started with a detailed description of the mural room created by four local teens. The mural project was a way of providing the teens with an outlet for the difficult lives they were living, and the images depicted the various Gods and how local saints became a part of the Nicaraguan and Diriamba culture. Also featured was the Güegüense,…

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