Recent Posts

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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May 27, 2013

Friday was such a long day that we set a record for starting early.  Everyone arrived at Quinta Goshen (our unit house) before 6 a.m. to leave for the entrance station for the Mombacho National Park.  Mombacho is an extinct volcano with a unique cloud forest on top.  The entrance to the park is at the base of the volcano at 1,300 feet above sea level, and the top we reached is at 3,700 feet, reached by a road 3.5 miles long.  Some students wanted to walk all the way up, others wanted to walk partway and ride in a…

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May 24, 2013

Music, dance, and pottery

On Wednesday the students learned about different music genres heard in Nicaragua, including popular folkloric music from national composers.  The presenter who played recordings of the different music types also brought a dance partner to demonstrate the fast-stepping, highly rhythmic dance styles for different types of music.  Then it was the students’ turn to practice the dance styles.  With much help and tutoring from the instructor over the course of more than an hour, the students got to the place where they …… still needed many more lessons.  But they got an ‘A’ for effort and enthusiasm. Thursday we took…

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May 21, 2013
May 16, 2013

At our Monday Coyuntura it appeared that we had forgotten it was Alejandro’s birthday; there was no cake and no singing for Alejandro.  Afterwards Maria asked Alejandro for some help running errands, while the rest of us hopped on public transports to go to Alejandro’s home, where a surprise party had been planned by his family.  After an unsuspecting Alejandro arrived home and found his classmates hiding in his living room, his family led us in several party games, including put-the-nose-on-the-clown, similar to our game with a tail and a donkey. On Tuesday we broke up into 3 groups to…

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May 13, 2013

A typical day for the students begins when they leave their home in Jinotepe, Dolores or Diriamba (all in the same department of Carazo) and make their way to the edge of Jinotepe where we have our Spanish classes starting at 9:30.  Most students arrive early, and Doug or Maria checks in with everyone before classes begin.  Classes continue until 12:30, with a 10-15 minute break in the middle. For lunch students go in groups to various eateries in Jinotepe, typically places called comedores, (Spanish for “dining rooms”) where a plate of food costs 60 Cordobas, about $2.50 ….. or…

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May 8, 2013

Field trip to Managua

On Tuesday we took a day-long field trip to Managua, the capital, starting at the old city center.  The original Cathedral is now in ruins with its clock frozen at the time (12:32 a.m.) when the 1972 earthquake leveled almost all the major buildings in the downtown area.  The Somoza dictatorship’s theft of international relief aid after the earthquake was one of the factors that lead to the insurrection in 1979 that toppled Somoza.  The former National Palace, now a museum that we toured, also sits on the same square with the cathedral ruins. At the Batahola Norte community center…

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May 4, 2013

Moved in with new families

Friday began with a nice surprise: rain!  Because the dry season begins in December, everything in Managua was very dry when we arrived.  The rainy season usually begins around mid-May, but this year it appears to have started already.  As we drove out of Managua and up the mountain to Jinotepe (where the SST unit house is located), the air smelled clean and the ground looked less dusty this morning. After arriving in Jinotepe, a city of about 60,000 an hour directly south of Managua, we broke up into 3 groups for a walking tour.  We had lunch in town…

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May 3, 2013

Last night for supper the students enjoyed their first Nicaraguan meal, which included a tortilla, salad, mixed vegetables, a fresco de Jamaica (hibiscus tea) and ……. rice and beans.  Everyone liked the rice and beans, which is good, because that is the Nicaraguan staple. After breakfast this morning (which included 4 types of fruit, as well as ….. rice and beans), the students had their first Spanish classes with their teachers for the next 6 weeks.  This first class focused on “survival Spanish” for this weekend, starting tomorrow, when each student will be picked up by their host Nica family. …

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May 2, 2013


The students arrived on time today, shortly after noon.  Once they stepped outside the airport, they were greeted by the robust heat that characterizes Managua in April.  This is the hottest month of the year.  After a 45-minute trip through the heart of Managua, we arrived at Centro Kairos guest house, where we will be spending the next 2 nights as we do introductions and orientations.  They served us each an ice-cold glass of passion fruit juice this afternoon,  during the hottest time of the day, and that hit the spot. On Friday morning we will travel south from Managua,…

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