Tag Archives: Goals

Personal PC Goals: A Review

It seems like ages ago that we made these goals, and indeed it was! A few have changed over time and a couple we didn’t quite finish, but it’s still fun to look back at how far we’ve come:

By the time we rang “the bell” to signal the end of our service in Peace Corps Nicaragua, we wanted to:

  1. Reach Advanced levels in Español
    • Andrés – 8.2014 Intermediate Low / 11.2014 Advanced Low /9.2015 Advanced Mid / 2.21.17 Superior
    • Emily – 8.2014 Novice Mid / 11.2014 Intermediate Mid /9.2015 Intermediate High / 2.21.17 Advanced Mid
  2. Learn some local slang: Dicho Doce
  3. Buy a Nicaraguan-made guitar: Meet Camilo
  4. Read a bunch in español
  5. Learn to cook some delicious Nica foods
  6. Visit all the departments of Nicaragua (sin R.A.A.N.)
  7. Join a basketball/volleyball league and/or yoga studio 
  8. Visit the houses of our counterparts: Ana Cecilia, Meysel, Regina, Cristina, Rolando, Zeily, Mariela
  9. Have all of our counterparts over to our house 
  10. Visit at least 20 Peace Corps Volunteer sites: Final count 32
  11. Host family/friends from the U.S. Best Surprise of My Life, The Payne Gang, Molding Memories in Nicaragua, Allen Christmas,Visiting our Peace Corps Family, From the Eyes of the Old Tiger,Cigar Tour with Adopted Family
  12. Run a 10/25 K: Taking Back the Run
  13. Start a new tradition in our family so that we can continue them for years to come, regardless of where we are in the world: 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2014, 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015From May Day to May We, May We Reflect, Intentions for year dos, May We Aprovechar Peace Corps, 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016
  14. March in a parade with our schools
  15. Climb/board/swim a few volcanoes. (Yes. You read that right.)
  16. Make Nica friends: It’s Nice To Meet You, EstelíEvery Nica Cloud has a Silver LiningSmall World, Big HeartsAdventure and Company30 Miles to IntegrationAndrew’s First NicaBdayOn Jack-o’-lanters and Histroy: Cultural Exchange Chasing Away the Darkness, #People: Photo Challenge, A Woman who is Changing My Life
  17. Follow a telenovela¡Mi Corazon es Tuyo!
  18. Start the STEP program in Estelí through Fundación Uno: What is STEP?, Permiso, Meaningful Work One STEP at a Time
  19. Return to visit our training towns/families: New Years in Masatepe
  20. Learn at least 5 songs together with some sort of fiddle/banjo/guitar/voice combo
  21. Learn the Nicaraguan National Anthem: Somos Voluntarios
  22. Swim in both Oceans
  23. Participate in Nicaraguan traditions (i.e. folkloric dance, holiday traditions, etc.): Home is where the holiday is, Easter morning, 30 miles to Integration
  24. Visit Ometepe IslandVisiting our Peace Corps Family, From the Eyes of the Old Tiger
  25. Kayak in the Rio San Juan: Adventure is Out There! – Rio San Juan Edition
  26. Visit Corn Islands
  27. Visit Indio Maiz Nature Reserve: Nil Sibs
  28. Facilitate the start of a Community of Practice with the English teachers in the Estelí area: Community of Practice in Practice, We Share a Passion
  29. Don’t adopt a pet, even though they’re so cute!
  30. Help run camp(s): ACCESS Camp 2015, 2016, and 2017, GLOW 2016, and CHACA 2016
  31. Visit the Community of Christ congregations here in Nica
  32. Visit the GU Winter term group 
  33. Go to a Real Estelí (futbol) game: Comparing Christmases
  34. Publish an average of 6 blog posts every month during PC
  35. Feel as comfortable in the Nica street market as in La Colonia:Produce Paradise
  36. Learn/create 10 different ways to braid my hair (Emily) 
  37. Challenge Donald Ugarte to a ping-pong match (Andrew): was challenged…but never was able to find a place/time for the match.
  38. Watch an Español based TV series from start to finish
  39. Buy a hammock: Meet Paz
  40. Visit and/or learn the history of all the sites on the (now old) Nicaraguan currency:
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May We Set Healthy Expectations for Ourselves

Being a first year teacher is hard. Being a first year teacher in a subject you haven’t studied in-depth is hard. Being a first year teacher in a subject you haven’t studied in-depth in a different country and education culture, while sharing a classroom with another teacher…is hard.

Teaching is a vulnerable profession. Although I had never taught before coming to Peace Corps, I had quite intimate knowledge of this from supporting Emily through her first three years of classroom teaching in the United States. For those that care deeply about the learning and well-being of their students, teaching can be quite psychologically demanding.

Our May We Reflect posts have given me a platform in which to think about this first semester of teaching, to the multiple teacher “highs” and ”lows” I have experienced.  If a lesson went awesomely, both my counterpart and I tried out new and successful activities, and the students were engaged, I would be on cloud nine! I loved teaching! Other times, though, when I did a poor job controlling or teaching the class, or the lesson was not matching with their skill level, or my counterpart and I weren’t on the same page, I’d go home from the school with my head hung low and find myself questioning what I was doing in Nicaragua. Continue reading May We Set Healthy Expectations for Ourselves

On Currency and Culture: History Lessons in the Palms of our Hands

Upon arriving to a new country, one of the first experiences of culture is placed right in our hands – money.  You need to exchange it, need to know how much it is worth in comparison with your own currency, and need some time before it no longer feels like Monopoly money.  What we sometimes miss as guests in a foreign land is the importance of what is on that currency.  The images and symbols chosen to represent a culture and people say a lot about the values and history of the country itself.

Over our time here, we’ve learned a bit more about the symbols and historic places on Nicaraguan currency.  And if you will permit us to be a little nerdy, a few history lessons are in store for you, dear readers.  Each of these colorful and beautiful bills has a story (or two) to tell.


Exchange rates

When we arrived in Nicaragua  (August 13, 2014):

  • 1 Córdoba = 0.0386 US Dollars
  • 26.015 Córdobas = 1 US Dollar

When this post was originally written (May 21, 2015):

  • 1 Córdoba = 0.0369 US Dollars
  • 27.133 Córdobas = 1 US Dollar

Now-ish (as of April 10, 2017):

  • 1 Córdoba = 0.03 US Dollars
  • 29.72 Córdobas = 1 US Dollar

Symbols and Places on the Nicaraguan Córdoba:

With the time we have left in our service we hope to visit and/or learn about each of the places on the bills and share their stories with you.

May We Not Get Bored of Rice and Beans for Every Single Meal

There are two ways to reflect on this intention from last May: the long way, and the short way.

Short Way

Days in Nicaragua we’ve had rice and beans for every meal = 0

Times I’ve eaten rice and beans and felt sick of them = 0

Long Way

Even the casual follower of our blog can tell that we eat well. Of our Foto Fridays, on average, at least once a month, there is a picture of a dish I’ve cooked. I’ve written 21 posts from my personal perspective, and 12 mention food. Just to be clear, I’m gonna come out and say it, straight up:

love Nica food!

Continue reading May We Not Get Bored of Rice and Beans for Every Single Meal

Teaching Thoughts

Abril 2015 Guidepost to Wholehearted Living
Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

Before swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I anticipated service as a time for life to slow down. And while I haven’t had time to read one hundred books, there definitely is a different feeling to the pace of life here.

We’re striving to focus a little bit less on how busy we are and how much we accomplish.  As a to-do lister and master task manager, I used to wear my crazy, busy life like a badge of honor.  We want to soak up this opportunity of a slower paced life, where stopping and chatting with people even if that makes you late is more important than arriving on time, where buying your food every day isn’t a chore, but a privilege to enjoy the market and wonders of fresh fruits and vegetables almost year round.  Hay mas tiempo que vida.  “There is more time than life.”  So slow down.  Eat.  Breathe.  Think.

So we’re taking time to reflect – on our passions, on our culture, on our lives.  With some of this extra time for reflection I’ve been thinking a lot about teaching, both here and in the states, and my future in it. Continue reading Teaching Thoughts

Transformation, Conjugation, & Taller de Español

January 2015 Guidepost to Wholehearted Living
Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

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

Be Free and Live Wholeheartedly: Intentions for my 27th Year

This first week in site has been interesting to say the least. To go from such a structured, fast-paced, and outcome-oriented three months in pre-service training to having two whole months with our sole focus of integration. We’ve waffled from enjoying a little time to breathe to feeling completely overwhelmed by the “free time.” Yet today is my birthday and when Andrew asked me what intention I want to set for my 27th year, I responded with, “to be more free.” I know what you’re thinking…I just said we’re overwhelmed by the free-ness of our lives in this first part of our Peace Corps service. Why would I want more? The difference lies in the intention. Continue reading Be Free and Live Wholeheartedly: Intentions for my 27th Year