Hola from Leon!
Today was our first full day in Leon! This morning we ate at our hospitable “comedor” (meaning “restaurant,” as mentioned in our previous post), called “Quiero Mas,” and when we had our fill, we travelled back to the hostel for our academic seminar on culture, where we discussed what we had already observed about Nicaraguan culture in our short time and what we had previously known of Latin and Latin American culture from media. Our definition of culture was: “a system of beliefs, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and are shared by a group of people. It includes customs, language, and material artifacts. These are transmitted from generation to generation, rarely with explicit instruction.” We then spent some time comparing U.S. culture with Nicaraguan culture and media’s portrayals of both. After our culture seminar, we took some much-needed rest until lunch time, when we went to our comedor again for a delicious traditional Nicaraguan dish. La comida era deliciosa! (The food was delicious!)
After lunch, we took a local bus to an area in Leon, called Sutiaba, to have a sort of cultural “tour.” We first arrived near a church that was unfortunately inaccessible to the public, but Christopher led the group to our next activity: a Sutiaba mural! We met with a tour guide, who was the director of an art school in Sutiaba, and with the help of our wonderful program coordinators, Judith and Christopher, he shared some history of Sutiaba with us, via mural.
Then we walked to the art school where our tour guide worked, and we had a dance class from one of the instructors at the art school! (Yes, we ALL danced!) We learned some basic steps for Salsa dancing, and we even got to wear traditional Nicaraguan skirts for the girls and shirts for the boys! We also learned that the ribbon stripes on the skirts represented a style unique to the Pacific area of Nicaragua. It was really fun to share together in that experience of a tradition in Nicaraguan culture! (Sorry about the poor picture quality on this one, but I knew you’d want to see it.)
After we got our feet moving and our hearts pumping, we went into another room for another artistic activity. Some of the instructors led a demonstration on the process of making art pieces with colored sawdust. This style of art is also unique to Nicaragua. We saw how they treated sawdust with types of natural dye to react when it came into contact with water–what a cool thing! One of students held a bag of sawdust while an instructor poured water in, and we watched it turn blue! They created many other colors and allowed us to create our own art piece, which we centered around the blending of American and Nicaraguan cultures. At first we weren’t sure where to start, and there were many disjointed pieces. But the colors of Nicaragua took us over, and the hearts of our Glimpsers began to shine through. Some students worked on pieces to show parts of Nicaraguan culture that they had noticed, and other students worked creating art that defined American culture. Still others created art that brought both cultures together, which was what today’s “Culture Day” theme was all about. Here you can see part of our finished product, and all our smiling faces to accompany it. 🙂
After our invigorating artistic experience, we travelled back to the more central area of Leon for some training for our English tutoring classes, which begin tomorrow (yay!). Our Glimpsers handled another full day with grace and enthusiasm, and we’re so excited to see, learn about, and experience more of the wonderful spirit that makes Nicaragua the vibrant culture that it is, full to the brim with bright colors and great heart.