Teaching English (all grade levels including a class of English teachers) in Diriamba, and planting frijoles and attending nation-wide farm cooperative workers’ organizational meetings provide a broad overview of two students’ service assignments. Anne walks across the street from home to Colegio Bautista Emanuel to teach English during the 7 AM – 12 Noon school day. The school encompasses grades K – 11, and students start studying English in kindgergarten. Rafael, Anne’s supervisor, said that they are particularly pleased to have Anne as a native English speaker teaching English classes. He noted that not only does this help everyone’s pronunciation, but it also helps students overcome their fears about speaking English with a native English speaker. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
Afternoons are devoted to “extra” English classes that Rafael is pleased to be able to offer with Anne’s assistance — to the youth of the Bautista Emanuel Church, and to all the English teachers in Diriamba. Anne said that she is enjoying the good humor of her teaching colleagues, her new-found authority as “the teacher,” and the energy of her students.
Lisa H doesn’t even have to cross the street to go to work — the bean fields that she helped plant last week surround her home on two sides. Lisa lives with host parents Dolores (“Lola”) and Alfonso, and brother Ariel (16 y.o) in the rural farming cooperative community of Santa Julia. To reach Santa Julia from Jinotepe, it’s a 20 minute ride on a microbus along the highway, and then a 20 minute ride in a truck heading downhill in first gear almost all the way. The planted fields include beans & corn, there are banana, mango & coconut trees, chickens in coops, plenty of mosquitoes, and gorgeous views all around.
Some days they work in the fields, while other days are spent attending various cooperative meetings. In Santa Julia there’s a youth cooperative and a women’s cooperative, in addition to the agricultural cooperative. Lola is active as a community leader, and on the national front as well, striving to protect and improve the rights of agricultural cooperative members not only in Santa Julia, but also across Nicaragua. And on days when neither field work nor organizing demand their attention, there’s plenty of family around to visit, and share coffee with.