Saturday, April 30, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This week's lesson is on goal setting- aiming and shooting at a lacrosse goal, and also working towards goals that the students have in their own lives. I was a little hesitant about this lesson. I wondered if these kids had hopes and dreams or if uncertainty about where the next meal may come from completely negates the perception of “future”. Yet, this week gave me a definitive answer. These kids dream- they dream big!

The classes this week began with a discussion about hopes and dreams. Each student was asked to write down a dream for the future. I was shocked, and thrilled by the responses we received.  These kids definitely hope and dream-just like kids in the states do.

Some students want to be pilots, astronauts, firefighters and models. Others aspire to be policemen and women, ballerinas, doctors and lawyers. Why?

Rosa wants to be a lawyer when she grows up so that she can help innocent people.
Mayela wants to be a doctor so that she can help people who are sick.
Maria wants to be a teachers because she wants to help kids learn how to read and write.
Jeffery wants to be a good lawyer so that he can have food to give to his kids.
Ruth wants to be a police woman because the streets are too dangerous and she wants to be able to make them more safe.

The lessons in the following weeks discuss steps to achieving one’s goals, the benefits of a positive attitude, and the importance of asking for help and seeking help and support from others.

How incredible would it be if (in the future) LTN was able to provide scholarships for kids to help their dreams them come true?  This fits perfectly with LTN’s mission to incentivize and motivate kids to stay in school...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter- Nica Style

Well I can't say Easter felt very Eastery, but the Easter bunny made its way to Nicaragua none the less. (thanks to my mom!)  The church service ended with a performance of a clown.  I spent the afternoon on Sunday up at the safehouse with a group of wonderful kids, there weren't any Easter traditions, or celebrations that I noticed.

With that said, I did experience one amazing Easter tradition here in Nicaragua. In Leon, a city 2 hours north of Granada, carefully designed murals depicting scenes from the bible are laid out in the city streets. 20-25 murals covering 4ish blocks of the city were all being worked on by members of the community. They used saw dust colored by fruits, flowers and other natural dyes. The murals are walked over and destroyed as the community processes to the church on Easter Sunday.

Some of the murals were clearly well thought out, and beautifully done by artists. Others looked more like "paint by color" designs as the colored saw dust was patted in. There were a number of Nicaraguans and tourists there checking out the murals and watching the artists work. I'm not really sure how everyone found out about it. Word of mouth perhaps- as most things seem to work here in Nicaragua. It was such an amazing afternoon, and a unique tradition to be a part of.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I disappeared for a few weeks- I couldn't bring myself to be on the computer very much when I had visitors. Hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of how incredible my last two weeks have been!

Mom and Dad arrived on the 13th and lived my life here in Managua for a few days. We went to The School of Hope to see the program in action and meet all the teachers, coaches and kids who have allowed the program to take on a life of its own here in Nicaragua.

Friday was Mom's Birthday. It also happened to be Diana's birthday(one of the girls who live at the safe house). My mom hasn't had a birthday celebration like that in a long time. It didn't matter that Mom and Dad couldn't speak the same language as the kids. They definitely figured out ways to communicate!

Here are the Birthday girls- my mom and Diana!

My sister and a good friend from college, Rainey, arrived over the weekend. We stayed at this amazing resort named Jicaro Ecolodge on a small island in Lake Nicaragua. It was the most gorgeous two day escape! I heard about the resort from a mutual friend who works for the US embassy down here. He also knew about the Nicaraguan "resident" discount that I talked my way into.

I think the shower was one of my favorite parts!
We spent the day exploring Granada and Masaya, two towns close to Managua, after our day on the lake!
My parents headed home first thing on Tuesday morning and the rest of the crew Katie, Rainey, and Dave (a friend from Highschool who is currently working for a microfinance non-profit organization in Masay for 9 months) headed to Isla de Ometepe. Recently named one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world, the island was a perfect place for the 4 of us to explore for 3 days!
Here is the view of Concepcion volcano on the ferry on the way over. 

Nicaraguans have a very different perception of "3 kms" What we thought was going to be an easy afternoon stroll up to a waterfall turned into a difficult 8-10 mile hike. Waterfall definitely made it worth it!
Stopping on a dock on our way home to watch the sun set. 

Katie and Dave in a field of plantain trees
Ojo de Agua- a man made swimming pool in the middle of the island. The water is natural river water that runs through the man made pool. It was clearly a popular spot for Nicaraguans and "gringos" (white people).

Dave, Katie and Rainey

After an exhausting and amazing week, the rest of the visitors headed home yesterday. It was such a joy to share a glimpse of the nuances of my life here- from the relationships I have with the Cisneros family, Bismark and his family and the girls at the safe house- to the absurdities, efficiencies and joys that inevitably come along with life in this country. Anyone else want to come to visit me!? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My New Goal for the Spring

It’s been an amazing week down here in Nicaragua. It has helped me realize a new goal for myself by the end of June when I come home. If I do this right, I hope to work myself right out of a job.
I’m really lucky. I get to work with two amazing coaches every day. As much as I love working with the kids and watching them grow, develop and embrace the program, it’s been equally rewarding and thrilling to work with our coaches. They are incredibly quick learners, and soak up everything they possibly can. Their progress each week has been the difference in the development of our program. A moment yesterday epitomized our growth in the last 6 weeks and our vision for the future.
We are currently training a new coach to run the afterschool program. Manuel is a former student at the School of Hope and was a participant in the lacrosse program last year. We brought him for a trial run for 2 months to see if can command the other kids respect, work with our coaches and develop into a coach himself. Norman, our current coach sat Manuel down after practice yesterday to give him some pointers. Norman stressed the importance of phrasing everything positively, setting a good example for the kids to follow and earning the students’ respect. He nailed it and described all of the attributes so integral to our program. I sat there, simply as a bystander in the conversation. I didn’t need to say a word. It was an incredible feeling to witness the values and ideals of our program being passed from one Nicaraguan to another.
Manuel listened intently to Norman, agreed to try, and showed up for practice again today. Reliablility is definitely a question mark down here in Nicaragua, but Manuel has showed up on time for every single practice this week. Each day he has improved in his relationships with the kids in the program.
I looked at Norman in amazement after the conversation and congratulated him on handling the situation so well. He crossed his arms as a huge smile of pride spread across his face. “You taught me well.” He said. To see the pride and ownership that he now takes in the program shows that LTN in Nicaragua has taken on a life of its own. This program is no longer “ours” its “theirs”. I cannot wait to watch it grow.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pictures from the last few weekends

Last weekend I got invited to Tatiana's Birthday Party! (shes in the blue shirt with the white writing).  The is one of the girls that lives in a safe house that I often visit. Daniel and Jessenia (the only white guy in the pic and the women in front of him) work for an organization that supports families and kids.  They have a home in which they kids live until the families are more stable. There are 6 incredible kiddos living at the house right now. We brought Tatiana's family up for the party. Neighbors came too!

Daniel and Elias