Traveling with GSE means working alongside our Nicaraguan peers, hiking up a volcano through the mist of Lake Nicaragua, and visiting beautiful colonial Leon, a center of culture and history with many beautiful murals and cathedrals. Students experience Nicaragua through discussions about the countries social and environmental history. GSE Nicaragua staff and students welcome groups to their community and share their experience working on their school farms. Participants sample delicious local cuisine served at family farms, at local restaurants, as well as meals specially prepared for us and brought to our hostel.
Hands-on service-learning projects and cultural exchanges provide students with life changing learning opportunities. Students develop organic farming skills, practice Spanish, and participate in grassroots international relations while building crucial 21st century skills such as cross-cultural communication and collaboration.
This spring students helped to build an irrigation system for a 1.5-acre school farm, a 10 x 15 meter greenhouse, and two medium-sized school gardens. The overall focus is on expanding production, building new garden sites, and developing a capacity to harvest plots year round by installing water tanks and well systems which will increase the number of harvest cycles by 40%. 100% of the produce grown will go to feeding hundreds of local students. Crops grown include: mangos, bananas, yuca, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and many others.
Plants aren’t the only things that grow! International travel facilitates profound transformation for students. Students return home with an understanding of a new culture, with new friends, and an inspiration to make change in their local and global community.
Day 1 — Travel to Leon, Nicaragua
Day 2 — Leon City Tour and First site visit
Day 3 — Orientation Workshop, History of Nicaragua Workshop, & Project Initiation
Day 4 — Service Work Day, Organic v Industrial Ag. Workshop, & Soccer Game
Day 5 — Service Work Day & Tour of Neighboring Communities Organic Farm
Day 6 — Service Work Day, International Relations Workshop, & Salsa Dancing
Day 7 — Travel to another region of Nicaragua (varies depending on program)
Day 8 — Option for adventure activity of relaxation time (i.e. volcano hike or swimming in a lagoon)
Day 9 — Option for adventure activity of relaxation time (i.e. waterfall hike or relaxing on the beach/kayaking)
Day 10 —Travel back to USA
*Note: This is not a fully accurate itinerary for any particular trip. Sample is given to show the basic break down and potential program elements.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (PLEASE READ)
- Pack light! You can hand wash clothes or pay to have them cleaned.
- Buy or borrow a backpacking backpack. This is a large backpack that can hold all of your travel items and be carried on your back. Rolling suitcases or duffel bags will be difficult to manage. Your large pack should still be a carry-on size (the maximum is usually 45-50 liters).
- Bring a small backpack that you can take on day trips, to fill with carry-on items on the plane, and keep close to you on bus trips with your valuable items (camera, passport, ATM cards, etc.) Limit your luggage to 2 bags only.
- Jeans (1 pair) – FOR SUMMER TRIPS ONLY
- 1 nice shirt or outfit for celebrations and formal events
- Comfortable lightweight T-shirts (5-7)
- Shorts (1-3)
- Socks, bring some high socks for hiking (7-10 pairs)
- Lightweight rain jacket
- Hiking shoes
- Sweatshirt or long sleeved shirt
- Sun hat
- Sleep clothes (shorts, tank top, etc—it will be hot at night)
- Swimming gear
- Travel towel
Other Important Items:
- Any medication you need (malaria medication, travel antibiotics etc.)
- Durable water bottle (at least 1.5 liters but the bigger the better)
- Toiletries (tooth brush, floss, shaver, toothpaste, etc.)
- Aloe vera
- Bug/mosquito repellant
- Work gloves
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Journal or something to write in
- $10 bill for your tourist visa
- Power bars/Cliff Bars/etc – nice to extra snacks during garden work days & hikes
- “No Jet Lag”- natural supplement for helping with jet lag- nice to have for flight
- “Emergen-C” or other vitamin supplement you can add to water, any other supplements you’d like to bring to keep your immune system strong
- Money belt (for money, passports, vaccination cards, etc.)
- Deck of cards
- Pictures of family, loved ones to show Nicaraguan students
- Frisbee, hacky sack
- A good book
- Spending money- ($100-200 in U.S. dollars for extra drinks, souvenirs etc.).
- Camera/iPod, bring at your own risk and remember that we do not need to be bringing these out with us at all times
Who should I communicate with if I have concerns while they are gone? In case of emergency, how do I get in touch with my son/daughter while they’re overseas?
What safeguards does GSE have to ensure that my son/daughter wont get sick and what will happen if he/she does?
Who do you typically hire as program leaders? How are your field staff qualified for this experience?
There are 3 International Program leaders on each trip, as well as the Executive Director or Director of Programs. All leaders undergo basic CPR and First Aid training as well as rigorous programmatic training to ground them in program itineraries, safety issues, and how to be a positive peer mentor.