Here in Estelí we have lots of options for food. We could buy all our food at “La Colonia,” the big fancy supermarket, but we like to explore a little. There are a few open air markets in town, including our favorite – an organic, green market every Friday in the central park with farmers from the surrounding areas. Just take a look at these beauties from the mercado verde. What more could we want?
Our trusted guide and friend, William, showing us around Miraflor. Always an adventure. Always good company.
One of the things that drew Andrew and I to Peace Corps service was the intensive, in-country, pre-service training. When compared with other volunteer programs, Peace Corps’ three months of training stands out to be one of the best in the world. We had skills, we wanted to go abroad and use our strengths to better the lives of others, but 6 months ago we knew little about Nicaraguan culture, and while Andrew had studied some Spanish in the past, I sure didn’t know how to use the language. Continue reading Transformation, Conjugation, & Taller de Español
For training this combo of stewed veggies, fried green plantains, and rice was one of Andrew’s host mom’s staples. Delightfully healthy, easy to make, and at the cost of slightly less than $1 per plate it just might become a staple for us, too.
Volunteer resiliency is a common topic at Peace Corps trainings. We’ve already received a few charlas (trainings) on the topic and will continue to receive them over the course of our service. Sometimes called “The toughest job you’ll ever love,” service has its ups and downs, as cultural integration and the slow process of change can be difficult. There’s even this timeline written by a group of COS-ing (Close of service – meaning they’re getting ready to leave) Volunteers in Senegal in the mid-80s that is still used world wide in PC trainings because the experiences PCVs feel at certain times in their service are shockingly similar.
Continue reading Volunteer Resiliency and the Lifecycle of a Volunteer
The day after returning from an exhilaratingly exhausting week at Access Camp in Managua, I asked myself if setting out on an 11 hour, 50 kilometer trek from Estelí to El Sauce, Leon with the brothers of Emily’s counterpart was a good idea. Emily was exercising wisdom, and made the tough decision to stay at home and recuperate. She piled into the family’s pickup truck on Sunday morning to meet the walking crew in El Sauce for the first day of the town’s patron saint festival. I, however, with all the unbridled curiosity of a Nilsen, and perceived pseudo-invincibility of a 20-something, couldn’t say no to this integration opportunity. Sore feet and sleep deprivation be damned! Continue reading 30 Miles to Integration
Camp has always been an amazing world for me. There’s something about the whole venture of uprooting people from their day-to-day existence and placing them together for some shared experience that brings immense joy and hope to my soul. How wonderful, then, for there to have been a summer camp here during what is typically a really difficult time for PCVs – the first few months at site.
We were invited to be counselors for ACCESS Camp a few weeks back. ACCESS is a program sponsored by the US Embassy that offers English classes to students around the country. ACCESS Camp then, is the week that all of these students come together to try something crazy, difficult, and incredibly awesome: to speak only in English for an entire week. As a current learner of a second language, I can attest to the courage this takes, as well as how effective an intensive language week like this can be.
As a counselor for the camp, I had many highlights: Continue reading Summer Camp and Feeling like a Real Volunteer