Recent Posts

June 18, 2013

Despedida

An SST tradition is to have, the last night before students leave for their service assignments, a farewell (despedida) party with their host families and language teachers.  During their last Spanish classes before the event the students had practiced several actos to perform in Spanish for their families.  The students also spent the afternoon cooking a variety of desserts for the event, served after a full meal we had our housekeeper Conny and others prepare for the 100+ people who attended.  Judging by all the food that was eaten and the hearty laughter during the two-hour event, everyone went home…

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June 16, 2013

Off to Service

On Friday the students left for their service assignments.  Since then we’ve received word that they are all with their service host family now.  Their placements are as indicated on the map, and the work assignments are as follows: Aaron B. – Laguna de Apoyo;  creating a mural and working on a recycling project. Aaron S. – Yasica Sur; help with organic farming. Alejandro – El Lagartillo; teach English and help with community work. Ali Hochstetler – La Concepcion; work in community medical clinic. Becky Snider – Batahola Norte; work in children’s music program. Benson – San Onofre; assisting in…

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June 14, 2013

The Bliss of Ignorance

In their journals last week several students wrote about the impact of the visits in Esteli and El Lagartillo.  Below is an entry from Bobby’s journal. The more time I spend in Nicaragua and learn about its culture and history, the more I learn about the United States.  In this situation, the old axiom of ignorance being bliss is quite true.  The more I learn of the connectedness between this seemingly tiny country and the superpower United States, the more angry and uncomfortable I get. Before coming to Nicaragua I knew nothing of its history, including the parts that it…

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June 13, 2013

Miscellanea

From shortly before our field trip to Matagalpa and in the following days we have a number of smaller events to share. At our twice weekly Coyunturas we realized that during our lunch on the back porch we were getting regular visits from Nicaragua’s national bird, the guardabarranco (ravine watcher), which is easily distinguishable by its bright colors and long tail with two partially bare shafts. At one of the Coyuntura meetings which coincided with Mother’s Day in Nicaragua, May 30th, the students also surprised Maria with a mega-card (which included 20 individualized cards) and a rendition of a traditional…

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June 11, 2013

A day in the campo starts with a cup of coffee and a piece of bread as early as the eastern sky begins to get light, which is at 5 a.m.  In our different homes we watched families in their morning routines, like making tortillas and hitching up the ox cart. At 6 a.m. we met in front of the library with two members of the community, Marcelino and his son Alcides, to hear about agriculture, the occupation that employs more than 40% of Nicaraguans, most of the them campesinos (small farmers who live in rural areas like El Lagartillo). …

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June 10, 2013

Saturday was an emotionally intense day that saw tears as well as incredible inspiration. Our textbook on Nicaragua begins the history section with this quote: The history of Nicaragua is among the most turbulent and interesting in all of the Americas.  If, on the one hand, it features incredible elite exploitation, mass suffering, and foreign interference, it also includes a significant element of popular resistance, national pride, and human nobility. Today we heard and saw each of those features, the bad and the good, first-hand. As Alejandro later wrote in his journal, this day “was an emotional roller-coaster for the…

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June 8, 2013

Last Friday we left on a 3-day field trip to mountainous north-central Nicaragua to learn about coffee, land, and other agricultural issues, as well as to hear firsthand from some local residents about their experiences in the two recent wars. After a 4-hour drive into increasingly higher mountains we arrived at the small coffee farm of Vicente Padilla.  Earlier the students had read a magazine article (www.envio.org.ni/articulo/3355) about Vicente’s seven-year struggle to keep his small plot of land from being taken over by a wealthy neighbor seeking to expand his large coffee estate.  Such land struggles have been common in…

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June 4, 2013

Convenient Christianity

Below is another student’s journal entry, this one from Elise. My family’s Christian faith has been evident to me since day one.  They are very active members of their church, and they make spiritual disciplines an important part of each day.  My mother’s commitment to reading her Bible and praying for hours each day has amazed me.  This kind of spiritual commitment has raised several questions for me these past few weeks. Why is it that these people are so much more excited about their faith than the majority of the Christians I know in the U.S. (myself included)?  Why…

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May 31, 2013

Below is a recent journal entry from Aaron reflecting, as did Caleb, on topics from our field trip to the Atlantic coast.  Tomorrow our group leaves for a three-day field trip to northern Nicaragua, and we’ll be back with more posts next week. When I first tried to think of an issue of culture or race in the U.S. to compare to the issues here in Nicaragua, I thought of major issues in the U.S.’s past history, such as with the Native Americans, slavery, or the civil rights movement.  While any of these would have worked, I think it is…

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May 29, 2013

What is my culture?

  During SST students are required to keep a journal and submit three entries each week.  This is a recent journal entry from Caleb, pictured in the photo on the left: As I walked to school today I had some extra time to reflect about my experience on the Atlantic coast.  I was thinking about the autonomy law, freedoms, privilege, and priority according to governmental policy.  Furthermore, I pondered how geographical isolation has set the stage for the unique and wonderful development of various cultures and heritages.  After talking with a few men our age from the Miskito community I…

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