May 28, 2008
We made it to the boat – and on time – early actually! We said goodbye to most of our Nicaraguan host families and friends early this morning and then began the bus ride to the ferry port in San Jorge. I can’t believe the “service” part of the trip has come to an end and we are awaiting our arrival to Ometepe, supposedly the 8th wonder of the world.
A few days ago, most team members were expressing their excitement about moving on from San Ramon to Ometepe and then home. However, the mood shifted in the last 24 hours to sadness about leaving our San Ramon families and friends. The goodbye/mother’s day party last night was amazing. After a pretty stressful day of scurrying around to finish projects up, all of that was forgotten once everyone stepped into the civic center and partying began.
The evening was filled with cultural performances and mother’s day activities our group had planned. I think everyone would agree that one of the evening’s highlights was Major Joyce River; Norwich University class of 1988 and Assistant Commandant, traditional dance performance with her host sister Laura. It took us all by surprise and left us all very impressed. Major Rivers’ performance is just one example of the level of cultural exchange we’ve all embraced and experienced on this trip. The evening continued with more performances, games, food, dancing, gift exchanging, laughter, and hugging – two communities that 2 weeks ago were strangers are now not just friends, but family. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Last night was the celebration, but the reality was this morning when the tears began streaming and the goodbyes had to happen. But the trip isn’t over and as Beth pointed out, neither is the cultural exchange. We have 6 Nicaraguan family members joining us for the trip to Ometepe, so let the fun continue! The trip will be over in a few days, but the memories and impact on each other’s lives will last forever.
May 28, 2008
Today is Wednesday and we are saying goodbye to our home stay families. It has been an amazing trip and everyone is saying they don’t want to leave, but as fun as it has been for me, I am ready to see the tourist attractions that Nicaragua has to offer. Our next 5 days will be spent traveling, shopping, and touring, which will be very exciting for me. On another note, I have decided that I love being an American and I am ready to return home. Adios!
May 27, 2008
As I sit here to write what might be one of my last journal entries from this year’s trip, I’m listening to my family in the next room exchanging “Buenos noches” & “hasta mañanas” with each other.
I’m so going to miss my family, most of all now that our time has come to leave for Ometepe in the morning.
Tonight was a bit of a late night as we’ve just returned from the civic center in San Ramon – the location of our going away party/mothers day celebration.
Of course no fiesta would be complete without food, song, dance, games, & a piñata! Even Joyce surprised us with a folkloric dance performance that she and her sister had prepared. They were quite good! And Joyce seemed to have been in her element with full costume and make-up!
Everyone on the team has really surprised me in some way during the trip – mostly for the good, of course! But when push came to shove, we came through as a team every time.
Back to my thoughts on leaving (my host family) in the morning: having grown so close to them over the past two weeks, I feel like there’s nothing I can do for or give to them that will ever be enough to repay them for welcoming me into their hearts and home so completely as they have.
Having had come from my own family where we would express our love and gratitude for each other with gifts, I’m at a loss as to how I can communicate my love and appreciation to this wonderful family.
My plan however, is to say in contact with them via any way possible. My “parents” and “brothers” don’t have email but we’ve promised we’d call each other which means I really need to improve my Spanish!
With an invitation from my family to return and the anticipation of seeing Enrique and Melvin’s story about the parakeet that we started together, I can’t wait to return.
If you’re reading this, just know there’s a community of some of the most warm-hearted and fun loving people I’ve ever met down here – and they’re eager to establish friendships with anyone wanting and willing to make the effort. If the ultimate goal of this trip has been to create solidarity and build relationships that won’t soon be forgotten – mission accomplished.
May 26, 2008
Well today is our last day in San Ramon. The two weeks have flown by. It is 8:00 a.m. and there is so much to do today. We have to finish up our La Chispa Library project, set-up for our mother’s day/final night fiesta, and pack for Ometepe. Most of the group is feeling a little torn between excitement for Ometepe and sadness because we are leaving our families that we have grown close to here in San Ramon. I know over the last two weeks I have met a lot of people and grown close to some of them. Last night a small group of us sat around in the local park and talked with some of our brothers and sisters from our host families. The kids here in San Ramon had so many questions about college in the states. Most of them hold that as their goal and we tried to answer as much as we could for them. We also exchanged emails and instant messenger address so that we can keep in contact. Well the day is beginning so I will be writing in a few days.
May 24, 2008
I’m having mixed feelings as the days in San Ramon dwindle down. I love it here, the places we have been, and the people we have met. There is a part of me that could stay here forever and a part of me that misses my family and my boyfriend. I don’t think there has even been a time in my life where I have been this happy. I feel like my true self, spirit, and my love for doing good has come out in my time here like it has never done before. Every penny that was spent to come here was worth it. I honestly can say I’d wouldn’t change a moment here, the friendships I have made here with the people of this wonderful country and the friendships I have made with the people on my team will be everlasting and I am so happy and thankful for that.
May 24, 2008
It’s been a slow day so far, started at 9 at Mercedes’ house; Moriah did some interviews. It has been an interesting week group-wise; I talked in my interview about how the group has been holding together pretty well, I think it has to do with everyone having individual home stays to go home to. There’s a little more alone time then last year, which, to me, is good.
I am now at the institute or local high school helping to teach English classes. We just got out of a first year class that apparently just started; we were supposed to be teaching them how to tell time, but they said they hadn’t even learned numbers yet.
The style of teaching is here is interesting; first of all they usually only meet once a week, so even the 6th year English classes don’t speak as much English as you would expect. The other thing I noticed was that at home in Spanish classes once I got past like 2nd year the teachers made us speak Spanish all the time; here the teacher teaches English classes almost completely in Spanish all the way up through the 6th year. It doesn’t seem to be a really effective system, in my opinion.
Lunchtime now, time for some of Mama Marbely’s delicious pasta and salsa. Hasta Luego!
May 23, 2008
Well it has been a long two weeks! It is Saturday and some of the people in the group visited ‘Los Pipitos’ and ‘Casa Materna,’ as well as the ‘San Ramon Institute.’ I was in the group that visited ‘Casa Materna.’ It was great because we created bracelets out of yarn. It was great until I got a little bored with making bracelets. It was about 11:30 and the group left to go each lunch since it was a hot day. We all went to our host families to eat. After eating, we all went to La Chispa Library to organize books. Oh, yeah, I forgot something! Yesterday I saw the Presidente of Nicaragua in San Ramon, face to face. It was so cool. Not everyone gests to see or even visit the President everyday. I even got the privilege to take a photo with him in person. Now, everyone is not fond of the President of Nicaragua because apparently he is a ‘Sandinista’ political active president. So, I guess, I met a president ‘face to face’ that pushes the ‘Sandinista’ movement forward. So what! Anyways, I have a headache as I write this blog and it’s raining and pouring very hard right now! It is crazy. I think some of the people on this trip are ready to go to a spa and relax, right?!? Yeah, I think so.
May 23, 2008
Lots of things have happened since last time I wrote. Painting “El Chile” school was amazing. Seeing teachers, parents and students from the community of “El Chile” helping us paint an entire school was very cool. Coming back to the school a couple of days later to see students enjoying their brand new painted school was very rewarding.
It’s amazing and somewhat cool to see how different characters can come together to complete a task. Some of our team members have adjusted to the culture and “food;” others not so much, but we are still supporting each other to keep going. Some of us are feeling ready to go home, but I still think that there is so much to do here and so many potential projects that we can contribute to.
I’m very lucky to have the host family I have. “Dona Nelly” and everyone in their family have been very hospitable with me. I feel like part of their family and I will keep in contact with them forever. Some of them may go to visit me in Panama in July.
I’m looking forward to the vacation part of the trip and enjoying with Keyla (my sister) in Nicaragua in Ometepe and Granada.
May 23, 2008
Today was a big day in San Ramon. The President of Nicaragua came to speak. Jose told me this morning on our walk to meet the team that the President would be visiting. Our group went to La Esperanza Verde today for a short hike, and an awesome lunch (no beans, haha). We laid and relaxed in the hammocks a while before heading back to San Ramon. When we returned, there were police at every corner putting up roadblocks and setting the stage for the President. The town gathered to hear the speech, and things were very chaotic. A few group members and I stayed for most of the speech, ate some cheeseburgers, and headed back to Chris’ house.
The procession of police vehicles began soon after the President stopped speaking. Shiel and I stood on the curb and said goodbye, not realizing the President was driving one of the vehicles until he was just past us. I’m assuming he left San Ramon via helicopter, just as he had arrived.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day. Shiel and I have planned to swim with the ladies at Casa Materna. But 3 of the women were due today, and a few more are due on the 25th, so we’ll see in the morning! We are also eating dinner at an Italian restaurant tomorrow! Everyone is pretty excited about that. But it’s time to head to bed, the dogs and chickens always wake me up early! Adios!
May 22, 2008
Our days have been full, but I get more sleep here than at home. Last night Estella’s 19-year-old brother went to the hospital with a fever, GI distress and dehydration. I watched the house for a little while as they got together with the family to get a cab to get to the hospital. This morning Tio Mignel seems to be a little better. Samurai is eating out of my hands and now letting me pet him, and sleeping at my feet. Bribery gets you somewhere after all. One villager saw samurai warming up to me and made a remark about getting to his heart through his stomach, and I said dogs and men are all the same. He laughed. Last year, Laura was at the University in Leon so I only saw her one weekend or two, but this year she is home during the week and goes to school on the weekends. We are getting to know each other better and having a lot of fun together, but at times she seems offended or distrusting. I am hoping that we can get her to Norwich for a year and eventually get a University exchange program going. A couple of days ago when we were on the bus driving through the La Chispa neighborhood, a bunch of kids yelled “los ricos”, the rich people. People here assume all gringos are rich, though it is true our poor do have much more than most of the rest of the world’s poor. I hate being perceived as one of “los ricos” because it keeps walls and barriers in place instead of tearing them down. Envy is such a powerfully harmful emotion for everyone. The Ivan Illich paper will provide for a lively conversation along these lines. Last year Clark, my host family “brother” was unemployed, because of the difficult economic conditions, so we had time to get to know each other, but this year he works several hours away doing coffee studies near Honduras, so I only see him on the weekends. I miss him, as his family must miss him. Many men here who are lucky to find work at all must travel great distances and leave their families for long periods of time. We have such powerfully strong ambitions that food, clothing and shelter just don’t seem to be enough and we destroy families and societies trying to get more. The only real answer is being content with what we have, which is probably much easier for those who have. The early American spirit was one of hope. What is it today? Getting and consuming and getting more until we get to our graves. I would have any trouble becoming a Nicaraguan… I would have a hard time counting coffee beans for eight hours a day though.
May 22, 2008
Aside from missing home, the last few days have been semi-busy. Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon at Casa de Materna working on the proposal for them so that they can get a new building. I did quite a bit of research on proposals and I finally found a format that I think would work for Casa de Materna, I’ve done with them, and I have tons of notes on Casa de Materna’s history and goals. Hopefully I will be able to draft a proposal for them before we leave and have it sent out to as many NGO’s and private organizations as possible. Today we climbed the mountain behind the school in El Chile, once we got to the top, it was an absolutely beautiful view. You could see for miles. Currently we are at the weaving cooperative in El Chile having a mother’s day celebration with the women of El Chile. Well, I’m going to get back to the festivities…
May 22, 2008
Well, it’s a Thursday afternoon and we are at the weaving coop at a party for mother’s day and we are all having a blast! I can’t believe that a week has already gone by and we have progressed so much. Nicaragua is amazing and the people are the best example of hospitality and attention. My time here has taught me to value the little things I have to offer and to care for those that do not have a lot to live by. I have wonderful people and I hope to meet more who will teach me the real values of life. We have had some crazy moments on this trip, from getting wet in a dirty lake to getting stuck in the middle of the road. Its just hilarious and I hope to be back another time of my life.
May 22, 2008
Wow! I can’t believe how fast the time is going! Today was our last day in El Chile. We are already starting to say goodbye and it feels like we just got here. I have been having a blast and the group is meshing really well. The last time we were in El Chile we painted the school. Today we got to see the finished product with all the paintings on the walls and all the kids in the classrooms. That was pretty awesome to see and was physical proof that we are actually making a difference here. The next few days are filled with mother’s day parties and our goodbye party is only four days away. We have done a lot of work here and the people really appreciate it. We have one more trip to Matagalpa to finish our work at La Chispa Library: cataloging and organizing all the books. This whole trip has been a great experience so far and I am looking forward to a great last few days.
May 22, 2008
The days have been flying by. We are almost two full weeks into the trip. The experience so far has been worth every penny. Our trips into Matagalpa and El Chile have been amazing. Experiencing the culture first hand and is really something else. Being able to help these people in many ways has been rewarding. Tonight should be very interesting because it’s the basketball game against the local San Ramon team. Apparently it’s a big deal in the community and the game is going to be a big challenge. Hopefully we will win.
May 22, 2008
It’s crazy that we’ve almost been here for two weeks. We are always busy, our days are usually packed. Yesterday I went to Casa Materna with Kailey, Rosa, and Greg. We went over basic information about how to take care of your newborn, many of the women already know a lot. In the afternoon we returned with gifts, ice cream, and baking supplies to make banana bread. It was really fun to be able to bake with the women since many of the women don’t have an oven at home. It poured all afternoon so we stayed inside and made a cake for the mothers of El Chile. After dinner we walked about, not much going on. Tonight is the infamous basketball game between us gringos and the team from San Ramon, I’m thinking we’re going to get our butts kicked.
May 22, 2008
Moriah A. Gavrish
I don’t know if the earth is actually spinning faster, but time must be moving faster because I can’t believe we have less than a week left in San Ramon before we take off for Ometepe. I think one of the best parts of this trip has been the variety of activities because everyday is different. We’ve never gone to the same service site two days in a row, but we have visited each site multiple times and I think the group is starting to develop relationships with local people in El Chile, La Chispa, etc. The group leaders recently introduced the idea of having someone be a “silent observer” for an hour each day and then report back to the group with their analysis. In a way, as the trip documenter, I feel like I am always observing as I capture all of the great things (and funny moments) our team is doing. I think the thing that sticks with me most is the genuine smiles that I see on both the faces of our group members and the local kids. I guess I expect the kids to be happy when we give them sports equipment or craft stuff to use, but the glow on the faces of the volunteers speaks volumes about what our group is doing here and how powerful a service trip abroad can be. Our trip has encompassed a bunch of different types of service activities and I think that’s a big part of the reason this trip has been successful. Our group has done everything from painting a school to more sustainable development projects, like planting trees and working with the La Pita Paper Cooperative. It may seem like we aren’t doing that much right now, but I think when everyone looks back at this trip they will realize we did make a difference and learned and experienced a lot along the way.
“I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people who are convinced they are about to change the world. I am more owed by the by those who struggle to make one small difference after another.” ~Ellen Goodman, American Journalist
May 19, 2008
Today was the start of week two and I’m ready to start the new week and new projects. So far today, we have done a reforestation project and at Pueblo Viejo and had lunch at a womans house in the community. We planted about 35 – 40 plants around the perimeter of the pre-school in order to provide shade for the children. I really enjoyed having lunch in the community with one of the mothers and having the opportunity to meet some of the locals. This trip so far has been an interesting experience for me and it just keeps getting better. As much as we are doing here, there is still more to be done and I hope that future groups will be able to accomplish even more! Adios for now!
May 21, 2008
I’m sitting face to face with a new friend I’ve since named “Allegra Negra”. She is a happy little black Doberman who lives across the street from mi casa. Though I’ve had the journal in my possession for a few days now, I’ve found writing in it to be more difficult for some reason. It’s so difficult sometimes to sum up the days events, for everyday lasts so long and so much happens… therefore, I’ll do my best to summarize, but I may miss some details. Let me work backwards. Today is Wednesday and I’ve just awoken from a mid day siesta after lunch. It looks like it will finally rain as I sit here with mi mama y hermana (mother and sister) on the front step of our house. Uttering words I cant understand, my two year old sister is giggling as she calls out to Negra and then whisps to her mother. This morning our group broke up into a few small groups to work on separate projects. My group, consisting of Angela, John, Joyce, and Kris, went to meet up with three women from La Pita – the coffee and paper cooperative we toured last week. After the lengthy discussion during which time we were asked to share our ideas about new products the women could make and how they could better advertise/market their handmade paper products, we began to delve into deeper conversation about the organizations long-term goals. We asked if they had even heard of strategic planning, then explained the purpose and benefits of developing a strategic plan . Ultimately we agreed to provide them with an example of a plan before we leave, but we couldn’t help but to raise the question amongst ourselves as to whether helping this small cooperative might be a possible project of future NUVA participants. We agreed to discuss this further with Beth to determine whether Planting Hope would see this as a viable project that NU students (preferably those studying business) could work on. So, that was this morning and I’ve almost already hit my two page journal limit, so let me sum up some of the last couple of days highlights (for me anyway). Two days ago on the way back form a tree planting project at Pueblo Viejo, our school bus got stuck in the middle of a dry river bed for about an hour and we managed to get our multiple attempts to get unstuck on video (thanks Moriah!). Im sure that will make the video, as it was pretty entertaining to watch all the guys become all macho all of the sudden and try to physically push the bus out of the ditch, only to break the jack they were using to hoist the bus up and render it useless! Other highlights – I met a few more puppies (as there are a ridiculous amount of dogs that roam these streets day and night) ; our guys have been practicing for there big basketball game against the local high school team and last night I unknowingly walked two pigs to their premature deaths. Well, what really happened was that I went to go meet Lakey and John for a meeting after dinner and as I was walking down the street, I saw a man walking two pigs on ropes. I approached them, greeting him in my best spanglish and since he could see I was interested in the pigs, he offered me one of the ropes which I gladly took. Upon reaching our destination and returning the pig to its owner, I headed off to John’s house and preceded to tell him and his mother about the pigs. The mother started to laugh and nod up and down saying something about a guillitire – at which point John began to laugh saying that I took the pigs to get butchered. Needless to say, I was horrified. As for other details, Im at a bit of a loss – I love my host family, I love the food, I’ve really enjoyed hearing about the various co-ops and needs in the community and I’m really looking forward to the planning for next year. I’m also really looking forward to our next team meeting when we’ll be discussing the article, “To hell with good intentions” – I feel that it will bring about some great conversation and reflection about our volunteer role here – especially since we’ve got both Americans from our group and Nicaraguan staff here preparing to discuss the article at length. Stay tuned, or as they say at Norwich- standby…
May 18, 2008
The first week is behind us now and most of us have adjusted to the new relaxed lifestyle. Today is a free day in San Ramon. We have spent all afternoon at Don Carlos’s pool. The local kids have had the time of their lives. We played chicken with the kids, a few games of twister, and have thrown a football around all afternoon. The life in San Ramon is much different but I can’t say that they live poorly; I was surprised to find running water, amazing food, and cable at my house. I have also noticed how happily the live here. The families do not have much but live relaxed and happy. Well I am going to get back to the fiesta!
May 18, 2008
Today we are cooking at Gregg’s house. What we are making is pretty good. So far so good on the trip. I am honestly having a blast. The people on the trip are amazing, I love the people on the team, and my host family is amazing. I love the house I live in. I think my family is more of an upper class compared to a lot of the other people here in San Ramon. The house is really nice, small but extremely nice compared to a lot of the houses here. I consider myself very lucky. There is nothing to much other than that. I really do love Nicaragua.
May 18, 2008
Today is the day we cook. We made Buñuellos! It was a lot of work. Especially shredding the yuccas and cutting them. Some people were arguing how there grater was better. Andrew and Kailey stated that their grater is better then everyone elses. I was just lucky enough to not grate anything so I could actually write a journal entry and take some time off. During the making of Buñuellos, some of the group was having a great conversation about Shiel being our on-site celebrity as Angelina Jolie. We are all looking forward to going to the pool and swimming! Yay!!! Adios!
May 16, 2008
It is 1pm after a huge lunch (chicken, rice, beans, carrots and tortillas). I’m having a blast! We have done a lot in a few days. We visited Matagalpa and La Chispa Library where they showed us typical Nicaraguan dances and theatre.
There is a lot of poverty in Nicaragua; however, I realized that there are lots of people giving them all to help more disadvantaged families. I’m so proud of this team; they have represented Norwich and the U.S.A. gracefully.
May 15, 2008
What a long day. We spent today in Matagalpa and La Chispa. I got to look into the solar panel project but it was not what I expected, they have already designed and ordered the system and want me to help install it next Tuesday.
The library was fun but hectic, the kids seemed impossible to control completely. They would not stop talking during the play or the dances performed by other kids for us.
The food has continued to be amazing; I am really considering making more of my own juices at home. If you are interested try watermelon and pineapple, ¡Es muy rico!
Well I’m back home right now and ready to sleep. Hasta Luego.
May 14, 2008
Today we went to a school in El Chile. We didn’t stay as long as expected because many of the children weren’t there due to the strike on public transportation. Regardless, I had a lot of fun playing “cops and robbers” and “cat and mouse” with the boys at the school.
After the trip to the school, we visited the weaving coop. We saw how much hard work went into each bag. Then the boys played some baseball with the local team.
I am now back in my home stay. It’s pretty quite in the living room at the moment. Sandra, a teacher at the school, and daughter of my home stay family appears to be correcting papers, and Theresa, a nursing student at the college is working on homework while watching Spanish soaps.
Tonight is going to be a fairly laid back evening after the party at Shiel´s host families home. We had an awesome time eating, dancing and mingling. Amy and Andrew spent most of the night spinning eager children in circles with their feet off the ground, while Rosa and I played tag with the other children.
There was also a piñata inside which proved to be a hilarious activity. Shiel´s mom was dancing and swinging, then she passed the stick off to another older women. She stood still blind folded for a moment, the started to break it down in front of everyone! The atmosphere was amazing. No one was in a hurry or cranky, everyone was just enjoying the company. It was an awesome experience which I hope to have again possibly Saturday at José’s home stay.
Well it’s dinner time now, so I’ll go eat with the family, then stop by the store and the cyber café later with the rest of the group, and probably head to bed early. We have a long day planned in Matagalpa tomorrow.
May 14, 2008
The home stays are proving to be a rich experience for the students. The students are continually sharing their various experiences amongst themselves. Most are adapting to the linguistic challenges and are quickly learning to understand much of what is said around them, although speaking is Spanish remains a challenge for many of them.
My family and I hare having a great time talking about everything, sharing our own cultures sayings or dichos, and telling jokes.
Today we are in El Chile visiting the “school on the hill” and the weaving cooperative. The science class on trees and the water cycle went well and will hopefully motivate the school children to want to participate in the reforestation project and take ownership of their trees.
The bys, as usual, enjoyed the outdoor games and got a great kick out of watching the gringos play too.
We also assisted the maestros at the school in selecting paint colours for painting the school. The colours the selected are dark purple, bright green, and yellow. Everything here is colourful. Everything at home seems bland in comparison.
I have showed some photos of Vermont and the snow to my host family, and to some school children explaining that I live in Narnia. They laugh in response and say it’s beautiful, but then I explain how cold it can be.
This is my second time in El Chile and many faces are familiar, but the ladies and children probably don’t remember be because last year I was with a different group.
Right this moment the students are spooling yarn at the weaving cooperative the way the indigenous people have been doing it for hundreds of years by hand.
Just since last year the weaving coop has a new building, a computer, and a small community library. I hope the NU VISIONS Abroad program in partnership with Panting Hope will help the El Chile community to educational opportunities for the children. Some day I would love to see some students from San Ramon, El Chile, La Chispa, y Pueblo Viejo come to study at Norwich.
May 14, 2008
The first few days here in San Ramon have been amazing! My host family has a mother, father and 3 daughters. I am sharing a room with the two younger daughters who still live at home. It is so crazy how different the living situations are. In my home here I have no running water, no shower, and only one electric light. Half of my house is actually outside, the kitchen, the toilet, and the “shower”. Last night the host families put on a welcome party for us and wit was so much fun spending time and getting to know all the families. The language barrier has been somewhat difficult but my host mother and I have found easy ways to communicate. She points at something or makes a had motion, says it in Spanish, once I understand what she’s trying to say, she’ll say it again, and then make me repeat it until I say it correct. Today we went to the elementary school n El Chile and taught the kids about how trees are useful and why we are going to plant some with them later on in the week. I am really looking forward to working at Casa de Materna and hopefully helping them to draft a proposal to help them to get some funds for a new building. So far this trip has been great and I’m so thankful I have had this opportunity so far! Until next time!
May 14, 2008
Oh my goodness! What a trip! Meeting the people in San Ramon has been a great experience. I have had so much fun meeting my new family! My mom is a 69 year old house wife who cooks the best breakfast in the world! My sister is a 29 year old secretary and my nephew is a 7 year old cute little boy who loves to play! I have learned so much about Nicaragua and the rural community and it’s people, including it’s history. I hope to keep having fun with my friends and new family and lets home I don’t keep missing home so much!
May 14, 2008
So far this trip has been awesome! Yesterday we went to “the institute” which was kind of like a high school but it had more levels. We taught English in three classes, basic dialogue, and the kids were really great. Some had only taken one year of English and they had picked it up really fast. Then we played soccer with the kids. We got smoked but it was a really good time. In the afternoon we went to Casa de Materna and took a tour of San Ramon. A few of us went to a local baseball practice and donated some bats, catching equipment, and a few balls. The kids were so excited to have the new equipment. At night we all had a welcome party with all the home stay families. It was great! The food was awesome and there were a ton of little kids that we were playing with! They were hilarious! All in all it has been a great time so far!
May 14, 2008
Meeting my family was interesting; the language barrier is defiantly a challenge. I get by with using had signals and body language. The experience so far has been better then I expected so far. Some if the best moments so far have been with my 7 year old brother. Giving him them the hot wheels cars and watching him play with them all night is awesome. I taught him how to use a sling shot with a rubber-band and paper. He ran around all day shooting things with a huge smile on his face. I look forward to spending as much time with him as possible, he always makes me smile!
May 14, 2008
I have been having a wonderful time since the moment we arrived. Getting of the plane the other night and immediately happing on the bus was exciting. I am so happy with my host family. My mother is so nice as are my brothers and sisters. I spend a lot of time communicating with my hands, but I’m getting better at recognizing certain words and phrases. We had a welcome party at my house last night which was crazy fun, my mother cooked a big meal for everyone and there was lots of singing and dancing. Watching my mom hitting the piñata was hilarious. Basically I’m having a blast. I was a little worried about the food situation, but not anymore, my mom has been feeding me lots and lots of mangos and melons. We’re off to El Chile today to work in a clinic, elementary schools, and plant trees!
May 13, 2008
Wow! This has been great! My host family is cool; my mom is a baker and my dad a carpenter. The three children are all older then me but there are two granddaughters that are really cute. One is 6, the other3, Salina and Marcella. They are really high energy and enjoy singing while jumping up and down. They have taken to me fast and give me hugs whenever I come in. The first day tour around San Ramon was cool, we played soccer at the high school, visited la Casa de Materna and took a tour around town.
The group seems to be holding up well, a little language trouble but nothing too bad. I really like the team dynamics. I can’t remember being this tired in a while so I’m off to bed. Hasta la mañana!
May 13, 2008
Moriah A. Gavrish
For some the last 48 hours may seem like a whirlwind of crazy travel, but for me the last week – actually make that the last 4 months – has been the adventure of a lifetime. As many people know, I’ve spent the last 4 months volunteering in Tanzania. I only returned home last Tuesday to make the quick turn around to repack my bags and meet up with the team at Norwich on Sunday night.
I really came into this trip with no expectations because I never really had time to mentally prepare myself for this trip during my time in Tanzania. I’m in a unique position because, although I am Norwich alum, I am basically the newbie to the group since I missed out on much of the trip planning during the spring semester.
Despite mixed emotions about leaving Tanzania, I am thrilled to be here in Nicaragua and even more thrilled to be reunited with my Norwich Family! The language barrier is certainly just that, but I know it’s part of the experience. Staying with a host family is also new to me, but I’m enjoying it. I just wish I would stop trying to speak Swahili to my host family! I know this is just the beginning of another amazing NU VISIONS Abroad trip!!
May 13, 2008
We arrived in country almost twenty-four hours ago. The long trip was tiring, and we have been busy today, but despite that and the hot sun I am beginning to feel somewhat rested after a long school year.
I have been anticipating this trip since over a year ago when I made my first visit to Nicaragua. And my Nicaraguan family has been anticipating my return and is happy to have me back. They say that next time I should come for a year. The students are having an interesting time trying out their limited Spanish communication skills and Rosa will prove to be a great help to the group.
Today’s soccer match between the Norwich Students and the San Ramon schoolboys was a real hit. One of Estella Salmeron´s grandsons says that the Norwich students aren’t that good at soccer. Our star player was Jose, our Panamanian staff member.
It is good to be reunited with friends and to enjoy the more relaxed pace of life in Nicaragua!
May 13, 2008
My impression of Nicaragua has definitely changed since I arrived here. Nicaragua is a beautiful country with a lot of challenges. Like many other countries in Central America they are experiencing the consequences of high gas prices, which consequently affects food prices and workers.
San Ramon is a beautiful town full of wonderful people. My host family is a great and loveable family. Doña Nelly´s Restaurant is the place to eat in San Ramon and I am lucky to have them as my family in Nicaragua. (There cooking is amazing!)
Being from Panama, I thought that I knew how difficult it is to live in a third world country, but obviously I was wrong. In Panama I live in a fairly comfortable life. In towns like San Ramon, people struggle everyday to survive and I’m so lucky and grateful that I can bring some light to there life.
May 13, 2008
Today is our first day in Nicaragua. I had breakfast with my host family this morning, which was pretty interesting considering the language barrier. I’m a little concerned about our inability to communicate. But, we’re all having dinner together tonight, so at least there will be a few translators at dinner.
We just finished our tour of San Ramon. We are now having our first team meeting and comparing our families and houses. Some people have no electricity or running water, where as others has cable and showers. It’s interesting to see from one house to the next, the differences in the quality of the houses.
I am hoping to learn some Spanish from my host family, while utilizing Rosa and Jose’s Spanish skills. I am also hoping to bring back a new appreciation for the way I live.
I am looking forward to trying some new foods, possibly tonight at dinner. Our meeting is closing up, so we’re headed to a big dinner with all of our host families at Shiel’s. I’m not sure how big this house it, so things could get interesting!
May 13, 2008
I am totally stoked. I love everything that we have done and the enviornment is amazing. I am having an awesome time with my host family (even though they do not speak English). I have had an interesting first day with my family, but I’m learning more Spanish and communicating a little better so that is easing things a little. The only problem I am having in caffeine headaches. (I am a horrible drinker when it comes to beverages), because I love caffeine and my host family hasn’t served me any; but I’m overcoming and I believe I’ll be fine in a couple of days. I think the group is getting along very well and it looks like we will have a successful trip.
May 13, 2008
Well we’ve almost been in country for 24 hours – and so far it’s so good! Our journey here yesterday went pleasantly smooth. No one lost a passport, we didn’t have any luggage go missing, and so far no one is especially sick!
As soon as we departed the plane last night in Managua, we went through customs (again no problems), picked up all our luggage and waited for Beth, Mercedes, and Kris to pick us up at the airport.
After a 2½ event free bus ride, we were dropped off in front of Mercedes house where we proceeded to separate out our personal bags from the donations bags we brought. Most of our host families were there ready for us despite our relatively late arrival. As soon as we were given revised schedule of the upcoming weeks activities we were greeted by our host families and escorted back to what we’ll refer to as ‘home’ for the next couple weeks.
Personally, I feel very fortunate to have matched up with my host family: Margarita and Alvaro are my host parents even though Margarita is actually a year younger than me, and I even have two younger brother and a sister: Enrique (13), Melvin (12), and Milagis de Fatima or “Millie” as she likes to be called!
My brother helped me right away offering to carry my bags while Margarita and Alvaro showed me my bedroom and around the house. I admit I was pretty elated when I realized we had a shower and toilet with running water – no roughing it here! My bed was even decked out with mosquito netting!
After a fairly restful nights sleep, I awoke this morning feeling excited, but a little under the weather. However, after a quick and brisk shower, a delicious breakfast prepared for me by Margarita and some medicine, I was ready for our first full day here in San Ramon.
This morning after a little scare with Fabio’s (Nicole Fabbo) tardiness to our 9am meeting at Mercedes we headed up on foot to the local secondary school where we met some 1st, 2nd, and 5th year students and helped them practice there English. Some of our team members even challenged the schoolboys in a friendly game of ‘football’. I’m pretty sure our guys lost, but with Chris’ superb goalie skills and Jose leading our offence we didn’t do too badly!
As for right now each of us are at our own home stays eating lunch. After we meet up at 2pm at Mercedes, we’ll probably go through the donations and then visit the Casa de Materna before our first team meeting since our departure and a group meal. Until it’s my turn again to journal…. Nicolina!
May 12, 2008
I am so excited for this trip! I can’t believe I will be in Nicaragua today. After all the preparation that has gone into the trip so far it just never seemed like today was going to get here. the day is going to take forever to get there. But it will so be worth it. I just honestly can’t wait to get there. At this point I am just so anxious. This trip is going to be amazing the only thing that is going to stink is not showering everyday. Will write again soon!
May 11, 2008
Wow, I can’t believe we are all leaving to go to Nicaragua in the next three hours, that’s enough time for me to play twister and drink a monster energy drink. I can’t wait to go to Nicaragua, learn the culture and pretty much understand the policies and regulations of Nicaraguan society. This afternoon we went to Wal-Mart to get last minute personal items. The one thing we forgot to get was toilet paper and we didn’t realize until we were back to the campus that we forgot it. But fortunately one of the other team members had tons and loads of it so we are depending on that.
May 11, 2008
It is 11:15pm the night before we leave. We went to dinner at Applebee’s as a team earlier and are now chilling in the dorm until our departure time of 2:30am. There is a heated game of twister going on in our room. Kailey, Shiel, Gregg, and Andrew are putting on a hilarious display of flexibility, (digital photos taken for blackmail). The anticipation for the trip has most of the group unable to sleep at all tonight. I am expecting this trip to be an amazing experience. I have never traveled outside of the country before and am not sure what to expect at this point. I hope to bring my experiences back to the university especially to the education club. Angela just entered the room and said “interesting” a very accurate description of the events at this point. Well I think it is time to grab some sleep. Until next time…
April 1, 2008
Hola! Como esta? That’s about the extent to my speaking Spanish. Although I took two years in high school and one in my freshman year of college, I really can’t remember all that much, granted it’s been about two years since my lat course. I think the language barrier is really my only huge concern. This past year has been flying by, I cannot believe our send off is in two weeks! My first year here at Norwich has been amazing, filled with tons of community service, and that’s why I cannot wait until we get to Nicaragua and I get to serve there! My only other concern is the fact that I have a few food allergies, but I’m sure that my host family has already been made aware of them. I know that this is going to be a life changing experience and I just can’t with for it to start. I really hope that the Norwich community reads this blog and enjoys it. Hopefully this will help to get more interest in involvement in volunteering internationally and nationally. These next 6 weeks are going to fly by and I am so excited about the fact that they are. Sooner then I think I am going to be on a plane flying to Nicaragua and I can’t wait!! Viva Nicaragua!!!
March 20, 2008
I cannot wait until I go to Nicaragua. I have never been in South America especially in Nicaragua, and I just want to learn more about Nicaraguan culture and its people. Although I already speak Spanish and know about Latin American culture, it will be very interesting to know how these people interact with each other and other ways of living. One more thing that I hope to see in my trip to Nicaragua is its historic places and their sites. It will be very interesting to learn how the ancient people lived many years, and from that experience appreciate the fact that there is another side of the world that is worth visiting and getting more info on about their culture. As a college student and as a young adult, it’s important to learn about other people so when we go out in the real world we know how to handle and deal with people that have different views then our own. I can’t wait until I go to Nicaragua!!
March 16, 2008
I can’t wait to travel to Nicaragua! This is going to be my second time traveling to South America and I am hoping it will be as much of an awesome as the last one. I am really excited about learning different things about Nicaraguan culture through the research projects and can’t wait to experience it in country. I think we have a great group of people going on this trip and hope we can do a lot of good for the community we will be staying in. I really don’t have many expectations or concerns for this trip. I try to keep an open mind on these kinds of trips because you tend to get more out of them. As I have a lot of service experience, I have learned not to worry about too many things and let the trip run its course. I hope that my past service experience will help me in relating to the people of Nicaragua and that through this trip we are able to build a lasting bond between the people of Nicaragua, planting hope, and the students of Norwich University so that trips like this are possible in the future. One of my favorite things about traveling and experiencing new culture is trying all the cultural foods. It seems that both Shiel and Andrew also share this excitement. I am looking forward to the fresh fruit and the traditional cultural dishes cooked by my home stay family. An important part about service trips like this is what you bring back home from the trip. Besides the pictures and a few souvenirs, I am hoping to bring back a good story to share with everyone in the Norwich Community as well as my hometown. Raising awareness back home is just as important as the actual service itself, and I hope that by the stories that I am able to tell, I can encourage more people to go do service in third-world countries or even in our own country.
March 1, 2008
I am very excited about heading out, it’s coming up very soon and I feel like I have so much to do, and so little time. I cannot wait to meet my home stay family and learn about their culture and form close bonds. I am also excited to get to know everyone in the group, everyone seems really n ice and outgoing. I have never traveled to Nicaragua before or anywhere in that area so it is going to be a totally new experience for me. I expect that the families will be very welcoming as with the entire community. I want to be able to help as best I can! I can’t wait to hike and explore the country and swim in the beautiful blue waters. I want to teach yoga and share our culture but also learn about the Nicaraguan culture and bring back what I learn and share with my friends and family. I’m a little worried about being a vegetarian, but I’m sure it will be okay. I want to be able to learn about a different way of life, a simpler way of life. It may be hard to pack everything in one/two bags but as Nicole said “think of it as an adventure,” so that’s the way I am going to look at it, an adventure. I want to return to Vermont with a new view on life, as in less materialistic and more appreciative of life minus the “extras”. I think that it is very important that we share our experience with the Norwich community. Traveling is such a great thing and college is one of the best times to do so. NUVA is an exciting program because we get to volunteer and help those in need while getting to know our peers. Being a transfer student, I am very excited to get to know everyone! I am really interested about this guinea pig thing that Andrew wrote about, but I have no intentions of trying any, being a vegetarian and all. I hope that a wide range of people will read the blog; I want Norwich students to know that these opportunities are out there, but also want the Northfield community to take advantage of the blog so that they will continue to support such trips. I originally signed up for this trip because when I graduate I want to travel the world and volunteer, and work for Doctors without Borders and spend time in the Peace Corps, and possibly start my own organization. I cannot wait to leave! It is going to be an amazing experience that I know I will carry with me entire life!
February 28, 2008
I expect that this trip is going to be a life changing experience, not just for me but also for everyone in the group. I am very happy to have the opportunity to help these Nicaraguan people. I am hopeful that my skills and experiences will be able to help these people and perhaps give them a broader view of the world and the people in it. I expect that the people will be very welcoming to our group, as well as excited to have us to help and share our knowledge. Going into this trip I feel very optimistic, I don’t have any real fears or concerns. One thing that I am very excited about is the opportunity to try new and hopefully exotic foods. As a culinary enthusiast what peaked my interest about Nicaragua was guinea pigs. I have been told that they are a South American deliquesce and I am very excited to try some. I hope that the experience I have on this trip will be with me for a lifetime and that this trip helps me to gain a greater view of the world. I can’t wait to share my experiences with all my friends and family when I return.
NU VISIONS Abroad, the overseas service program offered through the Office of Volunteer Programs at Norwich University, left for Matagalpa, Nicaragua May 12 for a three-week service-learning opportunity.
This is the first time NUVA will be traveling with a non-governmental organization (NGO) for volunteer work abroad. NUVA recently cemented a three-year partnership with Planting Hope, a Montpelier, Vt. non-profit that looks to support Nicaraguan communities by creating scholarships and economically sustainable cooperatives, as well as building a library in Matagalpa.
The team will focus on four primary services: community health, education, environmental conservation, and sustainable economic development. Also, all students will do an independent study on history, culture, or current events in Nicaragua.