Recent Posts

May 20, 2012

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…

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May 19, 2012

Part of the academic requirements of SST include journaling three times a week on various topics.  Below is a “free choice” journal entry written by Mary, which she agreed to let us share here.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. As I anticipated SST this past spring, one my biggest anxieties was host families:  What if they don’t like me?  What if I offend them?  What if I become a burden to them?  What if I can’t communicate?

May 15, 2012

East Coast Trip

First things first; happy belated Mother’s Day.  Here in Nicaragua, Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated until May 30th, but we frequently think about our mothers back home. Sunday, May 13 (U.S. Mother’s Day) was a full day of travel back from the East Coast of Nicaragua. Early Thursday morning, May 10, we left for our trip to the East Coast.  

May 6, 2012

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,

April 29, 2012


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.

April 28, 2012

Meeting host families

We traveled from Managua to Jinotepe this morning to continue orientation, and ended the day with the students meeting their host families this afternoon. They are spending their first night in their new homes getting to know their families.  Both families and students are excited and anxious to spend the weekend together. Pictures and a summary of orientation will be posted later this weekend, but we wanted to get these pictures of host families posted as soon as possible.  

April 26, 2012

Safe Arrival!

After a delay in Chicago and a tight connection in Miami, all 23 students arrived safely in Managua with all luggage!  Many students began practicing their Spanish with a quick stop at Subway to get supper before our bus took us to Quinta Shalom, our home for the next two nights in Managua.  Students are excited to be in Nicaragua but are heading to bed after a long day of travel! Tomorrow is a day full of orientation activities.  We will head to Jinotepe on Friday morning to prepare to meet host families Friday evening.

April 24, 2012

Greetings from Nicaragua! Keri Swartzendruber and I have been in Nicaragua since the end of March, planning and taking care of many details as we prepare for the arrival of the twenty three students tomorrow evening.  We are excited to begin the adventure of SST with the students.

August 6, 2011


It’s hard to believe that service is over already, and even moreso that our time in Nicaragua is ending. Alas, it’s time for finals — not the exams we take on campus, but rather a series of last-time-we-will-do-this and last-time-we-will-be-here moments tinged with both sadness and anticipation. On Friday afternoon the students made their way back from their service locations to Jinotepe and spent the rest of the day revisiting people and places in Carazo one last time. Saturday we had brief presentations on our final projects, followed by free time for more farewells, last-minute shopping, and resting up for…

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July 12, 2011

Amanda, Brian and Nathaniel are our three students at Estación Biológica located at Laguna de Apoyo. While the location is breathtaking and the picture of relaxation, the work that the three have been doing is far from a vacation. After a 20-minute downhill hike through the forest, Brian and Nathaniel join Amanda at the worksite for breakfast and work details from Pablo, their supervisor. Their daily tasks vary from digging large pits used for composting, filling in those same pits with organic plant matter, planting trees or collecting moths and bats for research. Much of their work involves the use…

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