The day started at a cool 6:45, everybody slumping out of their beds after a rigorous day of working in Leon’s central market. We walked around the corner to Deja Vu; fruit was for breakfast. While it initially looked like it’s sign of a long, tiring day, it ended up being a sign for everything else.
After breakfast, we had a seminar, led by Genevieve, regarding the impact of global business in developing and established countries, specifically the impact of the Fair Trade Agreement. While the “Free Trade” label on goods has allowed consumers to easily identify products and corporations that practice good ethics and treat their employees well, it has also clearly prompted a raise in prices of goods and a new type of corporate competition. Like anything and everything else in the world, fair trade has its advantages and disadvantages.
After the seminar, we made our way to Los Farallones, a shrimp “factory” near Leon. As a diversified corporation, which does not only specialize in breeding and maturing shrimp for export but also in selling larvae to other farms, they maintained a high standard of payment to their employees, with their base pay higher than Leon’s minimum wage, benefits, and have a “business path” that allows for a frequent variety of ways to move up in the career ladder. Los Farallones was a perfect example of what every global enterprise should strive to be: economically successful while also providing their workers with a happy standard of living.
The highlight of the day had to have been climbing the surveillance tower and being able to see the entire facility and beyond. Some of us used this as an opportunity to conquer their personal fear of heights, embodying one of the Three C’s, Courage, and reaped the fruit of their labor with an amazing view. (I’ll give you a chance to pick out the puns in that paragraph…)
After returning to the hostel, eating lunch at Deja Vu, and having some free time to ourselves, two representatives from Quetzaltrekkers came to speak to us about themselves and to lead an activity regarding creating a sustainable NGO. Quetzaltrekkers strives to be a perfect example of a local enterprise making a big difference. It uses its profits from organizing tourist hikes to the many volcanoes in Nicaragua to give back to the local community. Quetzaltrekkers not only provides financial support to youth-in-need and education programs, but also promotes and volunteers in various events and projects across the country. Based in Nicaragua (but have a sister company of sort in Guatemala), Quetzaltrekkers have no plans of expanding and the company can easily be heralded as a small enterprise with their hand in plenty of amazing projects.
After dinner, L1A taught their daily English tutoring class. David and I combined our Advanced English class with Lewis and Kevin’s (thanks to a lot of desks being placed where Lewis and Kevin’s table should have been yesterday). Tonight’s class turned out to be a blast. Every Glimpser on this trip can safely say that nothing compares to seeing their students make progress with their English and witnessing that “a-ha!” moment. Seeing the Advanced students show their ability to be exceptional English speakers has been a personal highlight so far on this trip.
Today turned out to be a completely different from what the measly plate of fruit in the morning could have made it. As the lights go out, “good nights” are exchanged, and stomachs rest from the surprise pizza party, there is a unanimous feeling in the hostel to refuse to let this experience end.