Recent Posts

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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June 3, 2014

While a good portion of the students’ time in Carazo is spent in Spanish class or charlas (lectures), our field trips give them the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the things they are learning and hearing about in the classroom. The past week offered several such experiential learning trips, starting with a visit to Gildan, a maquila (textile factory) located in neighboring city San Marcos. Gildan specializes in t-shirts, some of which can be found with the Goshen College logo on them in fact. In contrast to the maquila we visited in Managua several weeks ago, Gildan is a…

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May 28, 2014

East Coast Trip

This past weekend we visited the East Coast of Nicaragua, which has much more land and coastline than the more densely-populated western side of the country where we are spending most of our time this semester. Situated alongside the Caribbean Ocean, the East Coast varies significantly in its history, people, languages, cultures, and governance from those of the western side of the country. Often called the “Miskito Coast” for the indigenous kingdom that originally inhabited much of the area (as well as part of Honduras), this coast was long-affiliated with the British rather than the Spanish. In addition to Miskito,…

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May 27, 2014

Last week Martin’s host family invited us all to a surprise birthday party for Martin. Brad diverted Martin after reunión long enough for us all to sneak over to his house and be ready to yell, “Sorpresa!” [surprise] when he entered. Indeed, Martin was sorprendido when he arrived! The evening was filled with laughter and lighthearted fun as the group played a variety of party games – some familiar and some new to us – led by Martin’s host sister. From pinning the tail on the donkey to attacking a piñata (while dancing, by the way) to balloon-popping with partners,…

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May 19, 2014

Friday’s field trip took us first to San Juan de Oriente, a small artisan village, where we we were welcomed into the home and workshop of local potter Juan Paulino. Juan and his family have been producing pottery in San Juan de Oriente for generations. Juan carefully walked the students through the labor-intensive three-day process of making pottery, giving them a chance to feel the materials and tools he uses. We learned that improved machinery has changed and enhanced the process, but traditional practices are still in use as well, such as using bicycle spokes for etching the design into…

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May 16, 2014

When students are not in class or attending lectures, they are either attending reunión at Casa Goshen or going on a local field trip. We usually meet at Casa Goshen for reunión on Monday and Thursday afternoons. Our time is typically spent eating lunch together, taking a quiz over the previous week’s readings, lectures and field trips, and discussing various aspects of culture shock. These afternoons together also provide us leaders the opportunity to check in with the students to see that they are successfully managing the adjustment to life in Nicaragua. An additional element to our reuniones is that…

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May 11, 2014

Our Day in Managua

After an early 6:45 AM rendezvous at Casa Goshen, our group set out for a long day in Managua. Our first stop was a special maquila called Zona Franca Masili. This maquila is unique in that it was founded and built by 40 women who were relocated to Managua after losing everything they owned in the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Ten of those women continue to be involved in the work of the maquila today. While many maquilas in the area would be more commonly known as sweatshops, this small operation ensures that the workers, most of whom…

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May 8, 2014

Classes begin

Midway through our first full week in Nicaragua, students are starting to settle into a routine. A typical day begins with breakfast with their host families, and then they are off to Spanish class at the Jinotepe office of CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua. We are fortunate to be working with Doña Mirna, Don Ramón and Don René, experienced Spanish teachers who have taught Goshen students since 2008. Spanish classes start at 9:00 and end at 11:45. The students are on their own for lunch in Jinotepe, and already they’ve scoped out some good comedores (small restaurants…

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May 3, 2014

After a full day of orientation, we left Managua this morning and headed for the Department of Carazo, where we will spend the first six weeks of the semester studying Spanish and learning about Nicaragua’s history, culture, arts, literature and natural resources. We arrived mid-morning in Jinotepe, a city of about 29,500 (similar to Goshen’s population, in fact) and the capital of Carazo, where the Goshen unit house is located and some of the students’ host families live as well. On the way we passed through Diriamba and Dolores, nearby municipalities in which other students will be living with host…

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May 1, 2014

They’re here!

After a day that started with a 4:00 a.m. departure from Goshen, our 22 Nicaragua SSTers arrived in Managua at about 9:00 p.m. local time. Our Country Coordinator Dalena and I waited eagerly as they emerged from customs, all smiling and in good spirits despite the very long day and the intense heat that greeted them as we exited the airport. We were fortunate to have an air-conditioned bus ride to Centro Kairós, a retreat center on the outskirts of Managua. After a late-night bite to eat and water bottle refills, everyone seemed ready for bed. We’ll spend tomorrow here…

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