STUDY ABROAD IN NICARAGUA
With a legacy rooted in the history of the Sandista Revolution and it’s influence on Central American political and social movements, modern day Nicaragua has developed into one of the most peaceful nations in the Americas. Despite significant progress towards reconciliation the country remains the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. With beautiful coastlines, majestic volcanoes, and gorgeous lakes alongside a host of environmental problems Nicaragua is the perfect place to engage in learning around the themes of social and environmental justice.
We have three program options:
All our programs are designed to give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, volunteer on ongoing service projects in and around the village of Chacraseca in northwest Nicaragua, and explore the natural beauty of this geologically diverse Central American country. Our programs are structured to allow students to immerse themselves quickly into vital, ongoing, local community driven development projects while gaining a true understanding of another culture. As you live, volunteer, and learn you will join a national grassroots social movement led by cooperatives and nongovernmental organizations aimed at bettering the life of the Nicaraguan people.
Chacraseca, located on the outskirts of the Sandista cultural capital of Leon, is a farming community in Nicaragua that has practiced industrial farming for more than 50 years, using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and machinery. Today the land is contaminated with chemicals deep in the soil. These methods leave the once rich volcanic soils susceptible to erosion from high winds and heavy rains which greatly decrease nutrients in the soil and creates further dependency on chemicals. As a result, the community faces health and economic challenges. A growing movement has started to express mounting interest in alternative farming methods.
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 — Tour Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua
Day 8 — Volcano Hike on Ometepe Island (optional)
Day 9 — Relax and Debrief at Lake Apoyo
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 1 nice shirt or outfit for celebrations and formal events
- Comfortable lightweight T-shirts (3-5)
- Shorts (1-3)
- Socks, bring some high socks for jungle comfort (2-5 pairs)
- Underwear (4-6)
- 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
- Any medication you need (malaria medication, travel antibiotics etc.)
- Lightweight sleeping bag or “sleep sack”- two bed sheets sewn together like a sleeping bag. The weather will be warm enough that the sleep sack will be comfortable.
- Sleeping pad
- Durable water bottle
- Toiletries (tooth brush, floss, shaver, toothpaste, etc.)
- Aloe vera, because you may still burn at some point
- Bug/mosquito repellant
- Liquid, biodegradable soap-Dr. Bronner’s is great
- Work gloves
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Power bars – nice to have when traveling and working
- “No Jet Lag”- natural supplement for helping with jet lag- nice to have for flight
- A bandana (nice to have while working to wipe sweat off)
- “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.)
- Pocket knife (for cutting food)
- Deck of cards?
- Pictures of family, loved ones to show Nicaraguan students
- Frisbee, hacky sack
- Campfire stories
- A good book
- Journal (if you keep one you will love it, and be very glad you did)
- Spending money- ($100 in U.S. dollars for 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 (camera’s and iPods signal that you are a tourist, and give the impression that you have lots of money)
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.