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!