Tag Archives: Nicaragua 2014

Masaya Volcano and Goodbye Party

From Cheri Mellor, Language Department:

What a long day Saturday was! We hopped on the bus to go to the Masaya Volcano and by 10:30, we were already taking a quick tour of the museum. Then, we climbed slowly in the bus to the top of the crater. We were a little sad not to be allowed to walk to the cross where you get the best view of the volcano, but we could see from other vantage points a little ways down into the pit of the volcano. There was a good deal of sulfuric gas so we didn’t stay for long, just long enough for great pictures.

After this, we zipped over to the Masaya market where we had scoped out everything on the first weekend here. One hour of power shopping. Wow, lots of haggling, bargaining, and decision making. Back to Managua for lunch! By 3:00, the students returned to their families where they would spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out and getting ready for the 6:00 good-bye party. As we do every year, there were “care packages” purchased for each family full of essentials for their household. It is a simple token of appreciation for all the care and love given to our students since the first day.

The party got going late, but it was fantastic! Lots of dancing, music, super food, and memories. By the end, (9:00) there were still a few diehards dancing away even as the tables had been taken down!

Bags are packed, tears are about to flow, as it is now Sunday morning. We have breakfast in a minute, then off to the airport for our day of travel. It has truly been an honor to introduce these great students to Nicaragua. What a super group of students. Sole and I have lots of fun stories and only good things to report!!! We hope you have enjoyed the blog entries and the pictures.

Sincerely,

Cheri and Sole

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Almost Time to Head Home

From Cheri Mellor, Language Department:

The students are so tired today, after a long, emotional parting with their students… We spent the morning in festivities celebrating both our departure as well as one last hurrah for the school’s 23rd anniversary (March 10). Each class danced, read poetry, or sang for us. We, in turn, had a few exquisite performances in their honor, not the least of which was a dance we learned from Roberto, the school’s dance teacher. It was a real crowd pleaser. Lauren dazzled the students with her quick hands and cup stacking, while the whole group performed “The Cup Song” at least as well as the one you can see on YouTube. All of this took place in the street, of course, since there is no auditorium or large space. Then, the students all returned to their classrooms, where they served sandwiches or salad, and drinks. Music, lots of notes and gifts, complete with hugs and kisses, tears and nervous smiles filled each room as I went around taking dozens of pictures.

We spent a long time relaxing after lunch since it was ultra hot today. We would have yet another good-bye celebration this afternoon with the older kids. This time, though, it was inside. We watched more folk dancing, performed Roberto’s dance again (although with a different version of the song, making it a guessing game as to when to change steps….) and were so happy that Hanna sang as she played guitar.

After dinner, the students went home to begin their packing over the next two days. Lots to do. Tomorrow we will go to Masaya Volcano and then off to the artisan market. A special dinner tomorrow night will top off the day. The students are doing SO WELL!! Both Sole and I keep telling each other how lucky we are that they get along so well and are able to adjust to changes in plans, highs and lows, heat and different food, new friends, new spaces and all the rest. While I personally know each student from class or tennis team, it is still a wonderful discovery for me to get to know them each so much better on this service trip. Such a good group. Parents, you must be proud of your children for doing an amazing job these past two weeks. One more day to go. Pictures and comments will be scarce tomorrow, since it will be a late night and we have to pack. I`ll try to post a little something about the volcano, however.

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Last Few Days in Nicaragua

From Cheri Mellor, Language Department:

This is Cheri writing, mostly because the kids are exhausted!

This morning we participated in one last round of “competencias” in front of the school, in the street. Today’s highlights were sitting on balloons and walking with jojotes balanced on spoons in the kids’ mouths. I was proud of our GS kids as they beat the 10 year olds…!

After the competitions, it was class as usual, for the last time. Tomorrow, we spend most of the day watching and participating in performances for everyone. Then the big good-byes to the students. So, lots of winding down happening as kids are frantically writing last notes to our group, giving little gifts, and dreading the finality of our trip.

After lunch, we hopped on our bus and returned to Los Quinchos, the farm for abandoned boys where we went last Saturday. Today, we had two major tasks. While five of us fetched firewood for tomorrow’s chicken dinner at Los Quinchos (bye, bye, cute chickens we saw today…), the rest of us helped dig 30 holes for citrus trees. Then we planted them, which didn’t take long at all. We left there very dirty and feeling satisfied about our quick and efficient afternoon. In two hours, we had done quite a bit.

We didn’t get back until 6:30 and this time, instead of eating dinner at Rafaela’s, the upper grades held a dance party for us at the school. Quick dinner of corn tortilla, a little meat, and gallo pinto with a bit of cabbage, tomatoes, and onions. Yum. It took a long time for the dancing to get started, but once it did, lots of kids joined in. Sole and I agreed that we felt old watching them….!

As if this weren’t enough action, we then walked to Hanna’s host house where her family gave her an early birthday party! A cute cake (see photo) discovered right away by the hand of Hanna’s 3 year old brother, Santiago and red or orange Fanta to complete the evening. It was a sweet gesture, with music and colored lights. We were of course tired after a long day at school and at the ranch…!

Tomorrow should be interesting since we are starring in six (6!!) performances. One of them is the cup song and I had better not mess up.

Hope you like all the pictures. :-))))

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La Nicaraguita and U-Nica

From Cheri Mellor, Language Department:

I was talking with Rafaela this morning about students who go to school at la Nicaraguita. There are 276 students total in the school and many of them have a hard time paying the monthly fees. There are in the neighborhood many, many children who either go to the local public school, where classes can have up to 70 kids or some simply don’t go to school. Those kids are the ones who often help out the family by selling things in the street (tortillas, soup, bottled water….). Pauline McKean and I started in 2006 an effort (called “U-Nica”) wherein people help out by sponsoring a child in any grade so that they can attend la Nicaraguita. There are now about 20 families or individuals who do this annually. They sponsor one child for the remainder of that child’s elementary and high school education at la Nicaraguita. It is very satisfying work….

This morning, while talking with Rafaela, she thought of another neighborhood boy who is in need of getting more attention at school. She invited him and his father in the office and offered him a spot in school. The father and his son’s reaction was one of surprise and relief all at once. He would start tomorrow! This boy, like all the kids in the U-Nica program will have a chance at a better education and hopefully will go on to college, like most of the U-Nica kids. It was very gratifying to see this boy, who lives with 30 of his relatives under one roof, smile even nervously while imagining how school will be different for him now.

If you would like to know more about U-Nica, please write Cheri Mellor or Pauline McKean a note. We’d be happy to tell you all about it.

From Hanna ’15:

I had an amazing morning at La Nicaraguita. After two weeks working with a group of four year olds. I have become very attached to some of the children. My favorite, by far, is a little boy called Jeremy, who looks like he came straight from the “Lilo and Stich” movie. He has a round face, large brown eyes, and wears his hair perfectly slicked back. Today he walked into class very distressed, upset that his dad had to leave. The “Prote” of my class walked Jeremy over to me, he had tears streaming down his face. Jeremy must have hugged me for five minutes. It was not until that moment that I realized how much I love these children. My heart broke holding Jeremy, and I found myself comforting him like he was family. The gracious, warm culture of “El barrio Riguero” has began to really sink in and affect my personality. It is very special.

From Cheri:

This afternoon, we returned to the place we were yesterday and we learned more about recycling.​There, they showed us how to use cardboard boxes and after cutting out a pattern, we made archive holders, where you can put magazines, folders, papers and keep them on a bookshelf. We decorated them and covered them in plastic at the end. All in the name of recycling!

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Ayushi and Kirsten Share Stories

From Kirsten ’15:

This morning I awoke to hot bread and orange juice waiting for me. After eating with my host mother, she walked me to Rafaela’s where I ate even more before heading off to the school. When I got there three kids had already arrived and began chanting “Kirsten”! My teacher wasn’t feeling well today so we played with clay mostly. Fifteen 3-year-olds with clay pretending each piece is a different animal and making various sounds was the highlight of my morning. Dance lessons came later, which is always a silly time. All of us putting our all into shaking what our mama’s gave us and not have very much success, but having a blast. I’m going to miss it here so much.

From Ayushi ’15:

In the afternoon the whole group travelled to another farm called Cafetal. There we were split into two groups where we learned about how coffee is made and the types of plants they have. My group worked with a man who first showed us how to recycle trash and make it useful for everyday use. We made a flower pot out of old plastic bottles and it was so cool to see how innovative we could be. After that we took a tour around the farm. We encountered an adorable little sheep while we were looking through coffee plants. We tried petting it but the sheep only liked Hansel. The forest was beautiful and the light made all the plants and flowers shine. There were even avocado plants we tried picking from, but they were too big to fit in our bag. We are going back tomorrow, so it will be easier for us to make our way around now that we are a little more familiar with the place. The bus ride home was long but relaxing. I hope tomorrow we can use what we learned today and it will be fun and helpful.

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Helping with Exam Prep in Nicaragua

From Maia ’15:

This morning was a typical morning. The third graders started reviewing for their exams today as did all of the other grades. I think tomorrow is when they officially start taking exams. My class today was especially crazy so I was pretty relieved when we got to go back to Rafaela’s for lunch.

After a satisfying lunch we relaxed for about two hours. Our group just talked and it was really nice; we seem to get closer and closer every day. At 2:00 we went back to La Nicaraguita to sit in on some classes with the older kids. Right now, Lauren, Hanna and I are in the 8th grade class. We helped them a little with their English class, but now they are taking a math test.

At 4:00 we played field games with the older grades. There were piggy back races, running races and basketball dribbling races. There were also volleyball games and Los Gringos won! It was so nice to have fun with our Nicaraguan friends, but they were so competitive!!

When we got back from our crazy games, we were welcomed by Rafaela’s little pet cat giving birth to three tiny kittens! We literally sat there watching for a half an hour. I have to admit, it was a little gross, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen an animal give birth so I found it fascinating. I can’t wait to see the little gatitos mañana.​

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La Laguna Apoyo in Masaya

From Cheri Mellor, Language Department:

After a very Nicaraguan breakfast (“nacatamales”) made from corn meal, chicken, tomatoes, rice, and special sauce, we began Sunday, our day of rest. (The nacatamales were lovingly made by Kirsten’s host family, who also run a small convenience store. They spoil her daily with nacatamales, juice, and whatever she wants!)

From Hanna ’15:

This morning the group and the Nicas went to La Laguna Apoyo in Masaya. This is the same place where we went last weekend called “La Catarina” where we looked out over the volcanic lagoon. We spent the entire day swimming and playing with the volcanic sand and rocks. While we were swimming, a live band began playing beautiful music. In the warm yet refreshing water, I felt so alive, and I couldn’t help dancing around. In my blue one piece with my curly reddish hair, all of my friends began calling me “Ariel”, the mermaid from the Little Mermaid.

From Timo ’15:

As the morning sun continued to rise and the temperature increased, we took a much-needed break from swimming and enjoyed a lovely roasted-chicken and salad lunch, which ​was prepared by the laguna restaurant. Once we ate we waited for our food to digest, we jumped right back into the refreshing water. My nose and my shoulders were already red from the scorching hot sun. We challenged the Nicas to a few games of chicken, which is where one person goes down into the water to allow their partner to get on their shoulers, and then duel against another pair trying to knock each other off into the water. Because I’m the only guy in the group I had to have the girls on my shoulders every time, but much of the time we came out victorious, repping the good ol’ Los Estados Unidos. Once we were done with our day at the lagoon, we all piled into the bus and almost every single one of us enjoyed a long nap on the ride home.

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Maia and Hanna Share Stories from Nicaragua

From Maia: 

This morning we woke up and got to Rafael’s house around 7:00 for breakfast. We left around 8:30 to go work on a little farm that takes in boys who had been in troubled homes. The bus ride was two hours!  Once we got there, it was so nice to help out. We watered peanut plants, cleaned yards and painted. There were many animals but the ones that impressed me the most were the pigs. They were absolutely enormous, and they smelled so bad! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay long because the bus ride home was long. On Monday, we are going to return to the farm to plant 50 trees, mostly fruit trees. The boys were very loving when we arrived and when we left. Some of them hugged us and wouldn’t let go.

From Hanna:
 
We arrived at Rafaela’s for a quick lunch of chicken, rice and vegetables. After we finished, our bus came to take us and our Nicaraguan friends to a new park in the center of the city. The park was beautiful and reminiscent of sort of an amusement park . We played a few friendly games of volleyball, girls ​vs. boys, and obviously the girls were victorious. Then we all shared ice cream and headed back to Rafaela’s. At dinner we sat around, laughed and played games. Every day, our group gets closer, learning more about each other. Que rico!

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Lauren Shares News from Nicaragua!

From Lauren ’15

This morning when I walked into my classroom, I was greeted by my teacher who had made me two beautiful bracelets the night before. I find it very exciting and interesting how the people here love making and giving you gifts despite their lack of money or basic items for their homes. Tania told me she would teach me how to make the bracelets if I would teach her how to make snowflakes out of construction paper. She said that even though it doesn’t snow here, she can still put them in her classroom to represent geometric shapes. Tania, is so cool. She’s really funny and isn’t mean when I don’t know a Spanish word.

Today, Hector–the troublemaker of the class–started running around and tearing all the girls papers. I found it difficult to make him stop for two reaso​ns; 1) He literally doesn’t listen to a word anyone says and 2) the language barrier. Eventually I got him to sit down. Thank God!

In Roberto’s dance class we learned how to dance the Palo de Mayo! It’s this very sexual dance where everyone dances around a maypole with ribbons. The best way to understand is to just look up Youtube videos. I highly recommend. Watching Tim try to dance was hilarious as always. In the afternoon, we went to an orphanage to help clean up a back yard so they can build a house sort of structure later. We spent lots of time moving rocks and trash to clear the area for the building. It was so hot in the afternoon, but we all made sure we were drinking lots of water. The bus ride b​ack was long and sweaty but our Nica friends were silly and made the trip enjoyable. I really enjoy hanging out with them because they are so funny and its always a great time. It barely even feels like we’ve been here for a whole week already.

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Demi Shares News from Nicaragua

This morning I woke up at 6:20, excited to return to my adorable second grade class. I was especially looking forward to going to school because it was field day and would be filled with competitions. After bre​akfast we met up with some students and walked to school with them, like we do every day. I asked the girl I was walking with what type of games there would be and she was excited to tell me about the races. When I arrived in my classroom I had twenty smiling faces wish me good morning, all trying to give me hugs. Before I even sat down, the teacher asked me if I could draw a poster size picture for her. My task was to enlarge a picture of dora sitting on the beach. I headed to the library to begin. I have been asked to draw several images these past few days and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to draw something else tomorrow.

A little while later everyone headed outsid to begin the games. It was set so that each class went against each other.

The children’s chanting filled the air and the kids couldn’t wait to cheer their classes on in the races. After several games, we were asked to participate. It was the “Gringos” versus the Nicas. We ended up crushing our competitors, who were around ten years old. Oops. Afterwards, we continued with our classes and I helped them with their English pronunciation. When the time came to leave, I was attacked with tiny arms, all trying to grab me for a hug. It’s sad leaving the children because they are so precious. It is going to be one of the things I will miss when I go back to the United States. Also, drinks like soda and juice are sometimes served in plastic bags with ice. We all seem ridiculous holding plastic bags of juice with a straw. Reflecting on today, sometimes even when a task seems pointless (for instance, we painted the same color over walls today, making it look a little better​) the people who need the help really appreciate it. I can’t wait for our service to continue tomorrow.

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