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Archives for Summer 2012 Category

Learning about Education, Religion, and Women's Issues

Our afternoon charlas (chats) this past week have discussed the Nicaraguan educational system, religion - specifically liberation theology, and issues for women in Nicaragua. We learned some sobering statistics from Ivette Fonseca, an educator and consultant on educational issues.  Education is required only through the 4th grade in Nicaragua.  This creates many challenges, especially because many poor families don't understand the value of a good education.  Nicaragua has a flexible school year, so students can start anytime throughout the year, but this makes it very challenging for teachers.  Also, more rural students often miss several days of school each week during the harvest season because they are needed by their families to help with work.  Students needing to repeat grades and those that drop out of school and re-enter create the issue of more than 50% of students being in lower grades than their age would suggest.  Teacher salaries are also low, which creates little incentive to become a teacher.   Nicaragua has many challenges ahead in providing quality, affordable education for all it's young people, but also has many people working on addressing the issues.

Spanish classes and Nicaraguan history

Students have finally settled into a routine this past week.  After a long weekend learning about their new families and how to communicate in Spanish, everyone was excited to be at Spanish class Monday morning.  Most mornings, students will be in Spanish class.  After class they go in smaller groups to eat lunch in various restaurants around Jinotepe.  In the afternoon, we meet at a local University listening to speakers on different topics about Nicaragua.  This week we had a very dynamic speaker,


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.