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Kevin Hershey

Brittany Cannon



Nicaragua 2011


Here's what past participants said about the Nicaragua Immersion:

""I have a whole new perspective on community. I saw a really strong spirit in the Nicaraguan people. Seeing their strength and appreciation for life despite all their struggles- that was really inspiring."

"Before this trip I was not politically aware, but going on this trip has opened my eyes. It has motivated me to be more aware and keep updated on what's going on in the world."

"I was really hit by all the ways decisions made in the U.S. affect Nicaragua. Our policies span so many different aspects of life down there ... consumerism ... immigration ..."


Follow the 2011 Nica Team as they blog their reflections on their adventure below.  View the 2010 blog at NICARAGUAPLUNGE.BLOGSPOT.COM .

The Final Chapter

 Well, the last full day as a group is here and we have spent it hanging out at Monkey Hut. This morning we did some 'action planning' and now people are swimming, reading, writing letters, and just enjoying our final moments together. This afternoon we head back to Managua to stay a night at CEPAD where we will finish our reflections and have some closing ceremonies. The group that is returning to Portland should be landing at about 8:00 pm (PST) tomorrow, May 31st. The rest of the group, those that are going to Costa Rica, head to Samara tomorrow morning and will return to Portland on June 5th. 

This trip has been quite thorough, involved, and extensive, and we again want to thank you all for taking the time to read our blog (think it's Pulitzer material?) and taking time to listen to what we have to say. One final request is; the next time you see that loved one of yours who was on the trip, give them time to respond to the question of, "How was it?" because the answer you will receive, while probably lengthy, is one that we are trying to share. This act of sharing is part of our 'action plan' and we now feel that we collectively hold responsibility for the stories that we have heard and the people's lives that we encroached on during our stay. While we will work to hold each other accountable, we also feel the need to expand the consciousness of those among us, and demonstrate what we witnessed. Each of us saw the trip through a different lens; the lens of a particular major, religion, family background, class, etc. and the diversity of these lenses is hugely significant and can provide a much more substantial shared experience and collective story than if just one of us had come. 

Please continue to wish us safe travels and peace among the group as we make our final journeys home. 

Thanks again to all of your emotional, fiscal, and physical support during these last 7 months - we greatly appreciate it.

"Si la patria es pequena, uno grande la suena." -Ruben Dario

"If the country is small, one dreams it big." - Ruben Dario


 Hello everyone, this is Geoff here. As our time dwindles down here on this amazing experience we have decided to take some R&R on the shores of Laguna de Apoyo (about 30 km south of Managua). Interestingly, the lake and surrounding hillside are the remnants of a volcano. After three weeks of service learning activities it is really nice to enjoy some of the natural beauty that Nicaragua has to offer.

It is not all fun and games here, we are also taking time out of our day to work with WFP on our "Action Plan" for when we arrive back to the States.

One element of living in Nicaragua that I have had a special interest in has been the education system (since I am an education major). It has been interesting to learn about how Nicaraguans view school. For many of the children in the community where we built a school with Seeds of Learning, school is something to look forward to but only after duties at home (chores and farming with the family) are finished. I am amazed what the teachers are given and how they make due. At the site of our school, two teachers were in charge of a class that fluctuated in size depending on the season (at the most around 70), teach multiple grade levels at the same time, and to do this  all in a donated barn-like structure with no lights. For any teacher this is a daunting task. Seeing the current condition of the school makes me feel very good that they soon will be in an actual schoolhouse (a stable learning environment that they can take pride in).


Well thats all I got to say right now, I think I will go relax in the volcano now!


This is the Life

 Hellllloooooooooo to all of those back at home! Sara here.  Tellez. There is is only one Sara on this delegation, but I thought it would be wise of me to clarify for inquiring minds (aka my family). To the fam bam, I am alive and well. I'm tan...YAAAAAAAY! I will see you all soon and give you all besitos y abrazos cuando regreso! 

To start this all off, I have to say that this whole blogging thing is new to me, but I m gonna try to make sense, and make sure I don't royally screw up. Here goes:

This morning we left Matagalpa and made our way back to Managua. We said goodbye to the wonderful friends we made with Seeds of Learning, and their families. Aileen, our Seeds of Learning Leader followed us back to make sure that we got back safely to Witness for Peace. I appreciate the dedication that she has. Great woman. I took a nice little nap on the way back into Managua. It was short though. We finally made it back to the Witness for Peace House in time for almuerzo (lunch)! Yummy yummy! We hit up a delicious buffet restaurant that we were all familiar with. The moment we stepped into the dining area, half of our group flocked to the TV to watch the Barcelona and Manchester United soccer game. We had to stay longer just so that we cold finish the game. *Spoiler alert* Barcelona won! I know a lot of people that will be happy about that. ANYWHO! 

After lunch, we began one of the parts of our journey here in Nicaragua. Luis, the head hancho bus driver, drove us to a hotel called Monkey Hut. It is feet from the water of Laguna Apoyo outside of Managua. It is like a little slice of Paradise. They have a dock to jump into the lagoon, kayaks, boats, hammocks, beautiful views, and wonderful people. We got here later than we planned, but that's ok, we are on Nica hora! The group spent the rest of the night swimming and eating (what we all do best). However, this paradise is not all fun and games. We have some other matters to attend to. We were brought here to do some action planning. Our action planning is how we each decide how we are going to take what we learn here and what we do with the knowledge and experiences once we all get back to the states. I personally don't know how it is going to be once I get back.  I get separation anxiety, and no doubt I will get anxiety from the wonderful people of Nicaragua, but this wonderful group of people that I have spent three crazy weeks with!  I have learned so much from these amazing people, and I know that they are all going to do great things. My wish for all of them is to take what they have learned here and do good with it. We all have our purpose in this world, and we all came on this mission for a reason, and now it is up to us to decide how we use our knowledge and experiences when we get back. 


A brief overview of my time in Nica for those who are wondering. If you aren't interested, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph. 

  • Being one of the first to get sick, getting better, and then watching everybody follow me lead...
  • Homestay with Madie Padon, and Bri Bobiak with Gloria and Agosto. AMAZING.
  • Swimming/Bathing in waterfalls 
  • Getting a tour by a ten year old around Matagalpa with Allie
  • Despedidos with the BEAUTIFUL people of San Ramon (teachers included)
  • Gettin my tan on on the work site
  • Bus rides by Luis around all of Managua
  • Being a part of the Nica weight loss program
  • Gallo Pinto every other day
  • Staying at a "cute little hostel" in Esteli + ice cream with Patricio (Pat) and others

Our journey is winding down, and it is bittersweet in my opinion. We have had so many different, fun, crazy, joyous, and memorable moments here in Nicaragua. At this very moment, I am sitting in a porch swing with Maddie Justin (PS- to all, she sends her love) listening to Drew play and sing on the guitar, staring at the scenery, and I have one final thing to say..."I would not want to be in this porch swing, in Nicaragua with anyone else!" 


~"And that's all she wrote!"

Sol y Lluvia

With one day left in San Ramon, I feel at liberty to characterize our experience with a variety of images.


In San Ramon...

The roads are BUMPY.

The forests are MOUNTAINOUS and MUSICAL.

The bugs are HUGE.

The ants are VICIOUS.

The dancing is done with the HIPS.

The cows are SKINNY.






The rough bricks that we use to build the school are giving our hands a little character.   Yellowish brownish powder fills the cracks of our palms, and our fingertips are peeling.  Personally, I am hoping that a little of my dainty white-girlness diminishes a bit.  It's embarrassing, but luckily, we've given up on taking ourselves seriously.  Personal information is free-flowing.  The group is at such intimate knowledge with each other, social norms have gone out the window, and no sane person could be comfortable with the amount of information we share with one another now.

Luckily, the men who work at the site (my best friend is Luis Enrique-- who wears an overly-folded yankees cap and, feeling bad for me, tells me that my wall is "trabajo bonito".  I'll take the compliment where I can get it) don't understand English for the most part.  On the other hand, I suppose you look like a fool singing Disney songs no matter how many of the words you can understand.  At the site today, there was a Mother's Day celebration thrown by the school kids. 

80 kids + 3 teachers + Mother's poetry + hip girating dances, one after the other + Piñata = the celebration.

While some of the group maintained that the dancing was a cultural norm, (have you seen the way people south of the border just seem to "naturally" shake their hips??  It must be in the teaching!)  some couldn't help but avert their eyes as the 13 year-old Mother's Day performers shook what their mamas gave them....one after the other for a half hour.  After that, we left the storehouse-turned-schoolhouse (what our work will eventually replace) and we watched the somewhat violent spectacle that is the piñata in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow is the despedida, or the goodbye, and it will be our last day in San Ramon.  I think I can speak for the group when I say that we will be missing the weather in the mountains, where the afternoon rains and the altitudes bring a slight freshness to the air.  Don't get me wrong--it's still roasting.--but nothing like the sweat lodge that is Managua.  We will be presenting to the community our array of talents, participating in a cultural exchange with those whom we have been working this past week.  In other words:

Molly (AKA the group's only talent) singing + the Makarena = our performance tomorrow.

OK guys! I think you could probably tell from the style that this is my first (and probably only) blog.  This is Maddie Kiely.  Over and out. 


Second Work Day!

 M & M here! (which is Maddie Justin or MJ now *because we have 3 Maddie's with us* and Maddie Kiely) 

and well, Madie P is here as well and says hello to all!

*(MJ)* yesterday we had a wonderfully beautiful day off! we spent the day at Esperanza Verde which is a ecotourist coffee plantation in the middle of the forest of Matagulpa. therefore, SUPER AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL!!! we all did a hike along the blue trail finishing with a optional swim in the waterfall! only a select few participated in the dip, but I was one and it was wonderful! we then returned for a delicious salad with real greens and arugala with the main dish of rice and curry. following we had a delightful time of CHOICE! NO SCHEDULE but to be in the cars by 4! so CHOICE was amazing! no having to be different places we all appreciated i am pretty sure! so some lounged and chatted and hung in hammocks or sat at lookouts or i was in a small group (of Pat, Madie P, Drew, Joe Starzl and Carolyn) who went on a second hike! the RED trail! this consisted of A LOT of up hill climbs with an isolated school tucked amongst the green as well as a creek we passed over. all in all it was fantastic!! 

 we had our second day of work out at the work site where we are helping to lay brick with mortar for walls of a new 3 room school house in el campo outside of San Ramon. it is a great time to be able to work with nicaraguans to build what they want and not what we are making for them but instead with them! sure they may laugh at us, however sometimes even with us, it is all a good time! we're about half way up the walls on the back side of the school and one side (okay, that does not make it sound like a lot but it is comin'!)

So much has been absorbed since we've been here so i apologize for the briefness it's a lot to take in and then write in words. 

~to the Tellez family, Sara is very much alive!~


So Maddie Kiely will add in about the second half of today tomorrow as we are quite burned out. 


Love to all!



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