Tag Archives: Nicaragua 2018

El Catorceavo Día

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by Mallory Fritsch’19 and Bea Feichtenbiner’19

After breakfast at Rafaela’s, we went to the younger kids school. Since it was the last day of classes, all the kids were dressed in their summer clothes, so there were kids in bathing suits and shorts as opposed to their traditional uniforms.

In the “Nivel” classes, there was a celebration on the patio.  Before the celebration began, there was music playing and all the little ones were dancing.  Many of them stood on tables and chairs while teachers and parents recorded the cute little ones dancing.  All of the little kids gathered at tables to wait for the delicious bowls of watermelon, banana, and mandarin oranges.  After the summer snack, there was a large dance party where all the kids gathered on the now open patio. They all danced around and with the helping GS students and the teachers.  Towards the end, the first grade peaked their heads out to watch all the GS students dance to American music, but also learn some traditional Nicaraguan dance.

In the “Grado” classes, all the students got bowls of fruit, complete with mangoes, mandarins, jocotes, watermelon, apples, and bananas. As the finished their fruit, students ran into the hallway and began dancing to the music. At one point, Sidney and I started a conga line that was so long that the beginning was practically touching the end. Students got picked up at 10:00, which is 2 hours before the usually do, so we used the extra time to paint baskets for the dance teacher, Roberto. Then we, of course, had dance class and we all perfected our dance to perform the young students tomorrow.

After a brief break for lunch, we returned to Nicaraguita to spend the last day with the older students.  We all conversed and danced around while waiting for the the goodbye ceremony. The ceremony, similar to the Welcoming Ceremony, was complete with dancing, poetry, and English speaking from the older students.  Us George School students also had to perform the dance we have been working on in dance class. This took us by surprise since we didn’t feel that we were ready. We all struggled lining up in the pairings for our dance, and when we began the dance, the song wasn’t the right version!  We all made the best of the situation, trying our best to still dance to the music playing. Luckily for us, the students laughed with us at the misfortunate performance.

The eleventh grade students then walked us back to Rafaela’s, where we ate dinner and got ready for our last party with them. After a dinner of tacos with barbecued meat, we sat outside as a group, just hanging out and listening to music since it was one of our last nights together. At 7:00, the eleventh grade came to pick us up and walk us to one of their houses for the party, where we all danced and hung out. Since it was Alyssa’s birthday, we had a cake both at Rafaela’s and at the party. When it was time to leave, we all got a little emotional, especially, Hadley, because we didn’t know if we were going to see all of our Nica friends tomorrow. We’re still not sure, but we don’t think so. We’re all sad about leaving, but ready to go home.

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El treceavo dia

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by Zachary Wander ’18

Today was another work day. We were going to a Habitat for Humanity site (Hábitat para la humanidad), called Los gutierrez, located in San rafael del sur.

We had to be at Rafaela’s house at 6:30 to be able to eat, leave and arrive on time, so we were all pretty tired. At 7:30, we all boarded the bus, and took a 1:40 drive to where we were going to be working. There, we learned exactly what we were going to be doing for the rest of the day: we were going to be digging. Specifically, we needed to dig out a hillside, in order to prevent the nearby house from flooding when it rains. The dirt we were to dig out was going to be used to redirect the water to the side of the house, while the extra space between the hill and house acted as extra protection.

Before we started, though, we had to put on a lot of safety gear. Because we were using pickaxes to loosen the dirt and clay, we all needed to wear hard hats to prevent injuries in case of a stray swing. It was also recommended that we wear back braces (which we all did), so that the constant motion of swinging an axe or moving a shovel wouldn’t cause any damage.

Once we started (around 9:30), it was already very hot, and there were no clouds in the sky at all, so it just kept getting hotter. But we all persevered and worked through the heat, pickaxing out dirt, chiseling the sides of the cutouts we made, and moving the loose dirt farther up the hill. We were told that the best way to dig out the area was to divide it up into sections, making 2-3-foot wide troughs to dig out and level (2 had already been started when we arrived). It was surprisingly slow work. Even after 2 hours, we hadn’t even finished 1 trough.

At 12:00, we took a break for lunch, starting again at 1:00. The plan was to leave at around 2:00, so it was pretty obvious we weren’t going to dig out the whole area. However, in that hour, we did manage to finish the 3 troughs, all of us tired and covered in dirt.

We got back to Rafaela’s at around 4:00, where a lot of people decided to make a trip back to their homes to take a quick shower. After that, we ate dinner, and then waited to go to another party at Kevin’s house. I wasn’t planning on going, so I left at 6:30, but the rest waited until 7:00 to leave.

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El doceavo día

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This morning we started our day in the primary school with competitive games. I was happy because I was able to contribute to my grade’s win in the potato sack race. Then, all of our group, competed against student the Nicaragüita in a competitive game of tug of war.

We returned to Rafaela’s house for some delicious rice and meat. Not long after lunch, everyone was sprawled out on the floor, taking an afternoon nap. These afternoon naps have become quite a custom.

We were then picked up by the 10th grade class of the Nicaraguita and walked to school. We all sat in the back of our usual classes and took in the language. My grade was having a very interesting debate about feminism but I had some difficulty keeping up with all of the vocab. After recess we competed in another series of games, these were much more difficult to win compared to those of the lower school. We won one game of tug of war but lost every other game.

Afterwards, we went back inside for a party with the 11th grade of the Nicaraguita. They handed out plates with chicken and vegetables and quickly after eating we all danced. All of a sudden Alyssa and I were told to stand and wait in the middle of the room. To our surprise, a live chichero band came in blasting music as a celebration for our  birthdays. We had danced for somewhere around 3 hours switching partners along the way. We were very sad when the party ended and we had to return to our host families for the night.

Yours truly,

Danny and Alyssa 🙂

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El Onceavo Día

by Hadley Cohen ’19

Today was the first day of our second week of school. It is starting to hit me that we are leaving soon because the days keep flying by. This morning we had our normal breakfast at 7, of rice and beans, eggs and ham, and mangos. The juice of the day was my favorite, flor de Jamaica. After we had breakfast the first grade class showed up to walk us to class. Jordan and I spent the morning with our preschoolers, drawing, coloring, and playing with playdough. The greeting of hugs every morning has become a part of my daily routine, and I will miss it so much.

After spending the morning with the kids we went to our dance class. In the beginning dance class was really difficult because of the heat, but now we are becoming accustomed to it and it is becoming more fun. We learned the last part of the dance that we will perform on the last day. After dance class we went to lunch], which consisted of macaroni salad, plantain chips, rice, and steak.

Today instead of going to the high school, we went to the albergue of the hospital for children with cancer. At the albergue we played with the kids and painted. We painted the playground and the front of the hospital. This was really sad but happy at the same time. Even though the kids were sick, they were able to still have smiles on their faces and play with us. After the albergue we came back to the house for dinner. Dinner tonight was empanadas, rice, and tomatoes. When I got home after dinner I played with my 1 year old host brother and then passed out from the long day.

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El Decimo Dia

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by Alyssa Taliaferro ’19

This morning was pretty great because we all got to sleep in a little more since we didn’t have to meet to for breakfast until 7:30. After eating breakfast we all piled onto the bus and made our way to pueblos blancos. We arrived at this ceramics school where we had the opportunity to buy different ceramics pieces. A man there went through the process they use to make all of their ceramic pieces. It was really cool because they didn’t use any electricity. They used their feet to turn the wheels, natural pigments to make the paints, and rubbed seeds on the pieces to make them shiny.

Next we went to Catarina where we had a great view of Laguna El Apoyo. We went through a guided tour of the area where we learned the uses of all the plants. There was this one plant who’s name translated to skunk because of its horrible smell. Everyone in the group was trying to get me to sniff it because it is supposed to help with congestion. We also stopped to look at all the monkeys that were sleeping around in the trees. After our tour we stayed in the area to some souvenir shopping.

We went back to Masaya but this time visited another market for those who still wanted to do a bit more shopping and then made our way back to Rafaela’s house for dinner. My host mother picked me up at around 6:30. I went home, caught up on the 3 journals I had forgotten to write then went to sleep.

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El Noveno Dia

by Jordan Valdepeñas-Mellor ’19

Today, I was ready for a full day of fun because we had many fun activities planned. We were going to a pool somewhere and we got to bring members of our family with us. I like to wake up an hour before we have to show up at Rafaela’s house, so I woke up at 6:30. Unlike Alex’s mango-filled nights, my house tends to be a lot more quiet. We showed up at Rafaela’s, and had the usual gallo pinto, with the addition of a very tasteful, marbled bread.

After breakfast, we had to get ready for the second-longest bus ride of our trip. But when we arrived at the Centro Ecoturístico Flor de Pochote, the views were amazing as we were at the top of a mountain, with heavy winds. We were all surprised to find that before swimming, we had to go through 7 team bonding exercises which, if I’m completely honest… not my scene. But when we finished, we had an amazing lunch consisting of our choice of meat. After lunch, we took the afternoon to swim, talk to friends and families, look down the mountains, relax, and have fun. When we left, we stopped by a small marketplace, where we bought things made of wood. The bus ride back was long, but if one were to look out the window, one would find that the mountains were nothing short of gorgeous.

We got back to the house around 6:15, and ate quickly because our friend from the school was throwing a party for us at his house. We did have rules, of course, as we had to return to the house at 9 to check in with Sole and make sure we were all alright. Each of us made sure that no one would break any rules that could get us in deep trouble. The thing I loved most about the party was the music. We played a mix of songs both from the U.S. and Latin America. It’s fun to try and dance to a different beat, whether it be salsa or the macarena.

Life in Nicaragua is just great because we all get the chance to show our leadership and responsibility. Spanish-speaking is still a bit difficult for some of us, but we came here to improve and I believe that everyone in this group is improving dramatically, and that’s just awesome. The heat has also been a huge challenge, and it is hard to realize how often we need to drink water to stay hydrated, the water is usually lukewarm and that prevents people from wanting to drink but deep down we know that we need to drink. So far I have had an absolute blast here and I do not want it to end!

Signing off,

Jordan

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El Octavo Dia

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by Alexandre Cartier ’19

Today was very similar to every other day, the night was sprinkled with mangoes falling on my roof. I woke up at 5 to the delightful sound of my alarm clock as we had to be at Rafaela’s house at 6am. After I took my morning shower and got my backpack ready for the day, I helped a bit my family to prepare for their day of selling tamales which are a corn and beef filled leaf pocket classically from Nicaragua. I set up the outside table for the restaurant part of the store. My host father then brought me to the house of Rafaela where we had a quick but as usual delicious breakfast of galletas and juice. We then took a bus with many of our Nicaraguans friends to go to the finca where we were going to do service for the day.

After a 1:30 ride where i shared with sole the difference between the US, France, and Chile (in Spanish of course) we arrived at a very simple house where many women started their usual day of work. They explained to us what they did here and why. We found out that this was an organization only made of women where they proved to other people that agriculture can be made with respect to nature and my women but at the same time be effective as a real business. They explained to us they techniques that they used to corn both corn and beans which is to created multiple beds of plants with a tree at each end. They then showed us what the GS group from last year did which was a pig pen.

We then separated into two groups to each go to a field and create one of the corn and bean bed. This seemed very easy but considered to heat which made us be tired very quickly and made the ground be extremely dry took us a good hour to finish. Then we harvested a large number of beans in order for the workers to plant them later. Because of the heat we were unable to stay for the afternoon and do more service so we left and had a very good lunch made of classic rice, meat, and corn tortilla.

As we had the free afternoon we decided to do to visit the close-by city of Leon (which in Spanish means Lyon). We stayed at the main plaza of the town where many little pop up stores were so many of us bought more souvenirs and refreshments. Near the plaza was also saw the beautiful cathedral in the center of Leon. We then returned to the house of Rafaela, the bus ride was extremely silent as everybody was sleeping from this morning’s work. We ate dinner very early at 4:30 and then talked for an hour until our host families came to pick us up. My host mother came to pick me up at around 6:10.

When i arrived at the house all of the family members were starting to leave to their respective houses. Most of the 800 tamales were almost sole. I helped to clean around and then went to my room where i talked for an hour with my host brother. I then quickly went to bed as I was very tired.

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El Séptimo Día

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by Eva Coleman ’19

Today was like every other day; I woke up at 6:00am and then showered to prepare for the long day awaiting. Then my host sister Scarleth braided my hair and we left the house to go to breakfast. We got to the house very early around 6:45 which left me plenty of time to talk with my friends. We eat breakfast at 7:20 which was rice and beans, with pancakes and juice. Then we got time to relax before we left for the Nicaraguita school. Everyday 10 minutes before we go to the school the 3rd grade or 4th grade walk us to the school.

Once we got to the school we went right into our classrooms and began working with the kids. I am in 5th grade here so all of the students in my class are around 8,9,10. We started class with a little bit of math but then 15 minutes in all the classes went outside to play games. It was similar to a field day where all the grades compete against each other. We played a lot of games that were similar to relay races. It was fun to see the kids having fun and enjoying themselves, and the students from George School also got to participate which was fun.

After this we went back to class and I had science class with my students. Then we had recess where the kids get to run around and eat lunch. I usually spend recess with the girls and we play games as well as talk. A lot of the kids want to know more english and ask me how to say certain words in english. After this we went back to class for 30 minutes and then went to dance class. Today dance class was really short and we got to dance with the 4th graders. Then we walked back to Rafaela’s house for lunch.

After lunch we got on a bus to go to the Market in Masaya. It was probably a 45 minute bus ride to get there. Once we got there we had to get in groups of 4 with 2 people from George School and 2 students from Nicaragüita. We had 3 hours at the market and got to walk around and look at the different shops. The market was very crowded and had so many different things to offer.

After the market we got on the bus and went back to Rafaela’s house. We got back at 5pm and then ate dinner at 5:30. Today was also Danny’s birthday which we were all excited to celebrate. After a dinner of rice and beans, meat, and salad we had a special birthday cake for Danny. Then we all got to hangout outside and relax after a long day of work while we waited for our host parents.

I got picked up at 6:45 and then went home with my host sister. We went to the market and bought bread and then I learned how to dance with my host sister. We listened to music and went on a walk around the block, I had a great time. Then I sat outside before bed and wrote in my journal. At 9:30pm I went to bed so I would be ready for the next day.

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El Sexto Dia

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by Brandon Stolz ’19

Today began as usual for me; I wake up, take a nice cold shower, and get ready for the hot day. Today Eva and her host parent walked passed my house and asked if I wanted to walk with them to Rafaela’s house. I accepted and we walked the short trip.

At the house we ate breakfast discussing what we were going to do today. Sole talked about how we were going to the Orphanage in the morning called Hogar Belen. We were all excited to go when we filed into the bus with other kids from the Nicaraguan school. It was a long bus ride because all of the traffic so it took us about 40 minutes to get to Hogar Belen.

When we finally arrived at the orphanage the sun was very hot as usual and we were told to leave our bags in a room. When entering we soon learned that the children in the orphanage were handicapped. We spent the entire morning carrying, playing, and coloring with the children. During our visit we performed our dance that we did at the school, the cotton eyed Joe. We then did the macarena with the students of the Nicaraguan school and many of the kids were enjoying the dancing.

After dancing with the orphans we left and went back to the school where we had our dance lesson. We all managed to learn a little bit more of our dance by the end of our class. We then went back to Rafaela’s house for lunch and a much needed break.

We were all all relaxing after lunch when more kids from the school showed up at the gate of Rafaela’s house signaling our time to leave and go back to the school. At the school Malory and I went to our 10th grade class where we were discussing about sexuality. After this class we had gym where we played soccer in the street. We played soccer for a while until the final class.

During the final class, the school had a little party for us. They served us chicken tacos that were so good. After eating there was a little dancing.

The party soon ended and we went back to Rafael’s house and ate even more, we had hamburgers and fries. When I went back to my host family’s house I played soccer with them and ate dinner again with my family.

Jordan then came by my house and asked to play soccer with some other kids. We then all played soccer in front of my host family’s house for a few hours until we were tired. I then went to my room and went to sleep.

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El Quinto Dia

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by Danny McKay-Simons ’19

Today I awoke already excited for another day the school. After getting ready my host mother walked me to Rafaela’s house for breakfast, originally i thought it was going to be difficult to talk to my host family but because my  host mother is a teacher in my 4th grade class it was very easy to talk about the kids in my class and everyone is very nice and understanding when i make mistakes talking in their language.

At Rafaela’s house we had another amazing breakfast while we discussed the kids in our respective classes. Afterwards, the kids came and walked us to the school again and /i went to my 4th grade class. It made me so happy to see the faces on my 4th graders light up when I walked into the classroom. During the class i helped by correcting homework although i was surprised during English because the teacher was teaching a sentence with incorrect grammar and i was not sure if i was supposed to correct her or not so i stayed silent.

To finish off the morning we had our second dance class, and i was not looking forward to it originally because my feet had been hurting a lot by the end of our last lesson but this time i found that the dancing was not as hard and i was able to enjoy myself even more. After the dance lesson we went back to Rafaela’s house for lunch and i was able to take a nap which was good because i had been up late the night before talking to my host brother. It is a great relationship because he wants to learn english so he talks to me in english and i help him when he makes mistakes and i speak to him in spanish and he helps me with my mistakes.

In the afternoon we went back to the school and i went to 9th grade with Bea and Sidney. The classes are always interesting because while they are learning a lot, the classes are also very relaxed and as long as the work is completed the teachers do not care very much if we talk to each other or at times play games. We then left classes early because the 7th and 8th grade classes threw us a party. I was very appreciative for the food and drinks that they provided because they gathered the money from their own pockets and they just wanted us to have a good time. It was very entertaining to dance and talk with the other kids and after we left the school I couldn’t wait to be back.

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