Buenas tardes, familias y amigos!
We had another fun-filled, informative day today! Our theme was culture and we got to experience a ton of new aspects of Nicaraguan cultura. For breakfast, we were served an American-style breakfast with cereal and fruit, but the rest of the day was centered around a truly Nicaraguan experience.
Next, we participated in an academic seminar about our culture theme. We had a great discussion on what constitutes Latin American culture, Nicaraguan specifically, and what constitutes U.S. American culture. We focused on the perceptions of both cultures, where our perceptions came from (ex. news, social media, art), and the accuracy of those perceptions. In the end, we were all able to agree that it is inaccurate and even dangerous to try to define culture as only one defined concept when there is such a great deal of diversity within communities.
Following the academic seminar, we got on our bus and headed to our field trip. We went to a women’s collective where eleven women continue a tradition that has been in their families for generations: the creation of black pottery. Nicaragua is one of only three countries in the world that creates black pottery and Jinotega is the only department (similar to a state in the U.S.) that uses this form of pottery within Nicaragua. Once we arrived at the collective, we got to know more about the pottery creation process and then worked alongside two of the women to create our own plates. We were grateful to have this experience and quite a few of us purchased the plates we made, along with other special pottery from the collective’s gift shop. While half the group made plates first, the other half started by making sweet tortillas that are popular here in Nicaragua. After our mini cooking lesson, we were able to sample our creations; ¡delicioso! The women were incredibly warm, hospitable, and welcoming. We all agreed we would love to return some day.
Our celebration of culture did not end there. We went straight back to Jinotega for lunch at La Familiar where the staff’s familiar friendly faces greeted us. Though we’ve eaten well each day, this was probably the best meal so far! The staff provided typical Nicaraguan dishes for us so we could try more of the country’s specialties. For our main course we ate albondigas, a delicious and hearty soup with chicken, masa balls, and vegetables. On the side, there were tortillas, rice, corn, sweet corn tortillas, and cookies. We were stuffed!
Next, we held a program seminar about English tutoring. Students learned more about the tutoring schedule and expectations, received tips on teaching and classroom management, and got into their groups based on Spanish language abilities (ex. fluent Spanish speakers were assigned to the advanced English classes). In groups, they began planning their first lesson. Students will lead their first tutoring session on Monday.
Seems like a full day? Well, we weren’t done yet. We followed up the program seminar with a high energy dance class that left us all pouring with sweat. It was more intense than any gym work out! Our instructor, Carlos, was a phenomenal dancer who taught us dances native to Jinotega specifically and Nicaragua as a whole, then finished with dances from other Latin American nations. Our “breaks” were dance circles with disco lights where everyone had to freestyle their best moves in the middle of the circle. Many of us had so much fun that we want to take more classes with Carlos during our free time next week!
After a comparatively small dinner of rice and beans and sweet plantains, we had our nightly meeting and passed the torch to the new El Lider Del Dia. Tonight was exciting because our first student leader, Andy, took over as the ELDD! For the first few days, the adult leaders modeled how to be an ELDD but for tomorrow’s free day (stay tuned!), Andy will take on the role.
Today we got to bond and interact with even more Jinotega locals, immersing ourselves further in the culture and gaining a better understanding of the diversity of Nicaragua’s customs. As the GG leaders, we have already witness tremendous growth in the students as they open up to new experiences and take full advantage of this opportunity.