Tag Archives: Relationships

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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Felices Fiestas from Nicaragua

Dearest friends and family,

christmas-card-2016

When we joined the Peace Corps in 2014, we never thought we’d be this comfortable and at home in a foreign country.  Yet throughout our 27+ months and extension we’ve slowly come to understand and embrace our Gringo Pinolero identities.

Like any year, 2016 brought it’s own ups and downs.

We grew closer to our friends and host families here, but we also greatly missed our loved ones back home.  So we visited home – once to IL (for a funeral) and once to OR (for a birthday/GRE).  And we hosted so many (11) different friends and family members! Showing them our Nicaragua has been an honor and we hope that they now understand a bit more why we love it so much.

We survived a hurricane, and zika, and the long recovery of chikunguyna.  Don’t worry.  None of them were as bad as they sound.

We experienced two national elections – of our host and home countries – through a lens we’ve never had before.  It was quite the experience to be abroad during an election year.

We said goodbye to our cohort since we extended our service, counseled/co-directed 4 camps this calendar year (ACCESS, GLOW, CHACA, and ACCESS again), and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Gallo pinto is now a welcomed staple in our diet.  We learned a lot from teaching in a completely new setting.  We continued to immerse ourselves in Spanish and up our Nica street cred.

We worked hard and earned our keep.  One of our PC Nicaragua staff members says that the longer we’re here, the more qualified we’ll feel to dive deeper into our work.  Now that we’re almost done, we keep thinking of new projects that we could do if only we had the time.

And we’re starting to feel that pressure of time.  So we’re taking as many pictures as we can, celebrating small moments, and striving to live into the intentions we set to aprovechar our time left in Peace Corps.

Life is full of comings and goings, of challenges and lessons, of transitions and blessings.  We embrace what we can, while we can, and strive to have the lessons we’ve learned from our journey guide our way on.  That is what we wish for you this holiday season, and for ourselves in the (big transition) year to come.

Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo.

Love and light,
Emily and Andrew

Happy Tears

NESTS and NNESTS

I had the pleasure of giving a charla (workshop) a few weeks ago with one of my counterparts to the new group of Peace Corps Trainees and their new counterparts they’d just met. The charla was about how we can work together as Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTS) and Non-Native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTS) to both be better teachers.  Peace Corps LOVES acronyms…can you tell?  haha!

At one point during the session, Ana Cecilia and I were to share our prepared remarks about what we’ve learned from each other these past two years and how working together has made us better teachers.  We practiced and had it all planned out…..until we both broke down crying trying to share in front of close to 60 people.  It was embarrassing.  It was heart-warming.

I’m not ready to say goodbye yet…and that hit me hard in the middle of this session.  I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to work with amazing teachers like Ana Cecilia, and feel beyond honored to have her say that I have forever changed her teaching and her life for the better.

Hosting Practicum Week for TEFL68

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Hosting 12 of the amazing TFL trainees here in Esteli this past week has been a true highlight of our service. We feel so inspired by their enthusiasm and positivity, their professionalism and go-getter attitudes, and their willingness to learn about Nicaraguan culture and people we hold so dear. Best of luck on your last few weeks of training, Nica68!

The Power of Compliments

Baho

I love food.  I love cooking it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, everything.  As a cook, I also know how good it feels to have someone expound on the scrumptiousness of my creations. Therefore, I have no shame in showering praise on people that make my barriga llena y corazón contento.  I’ve successfully wooed the lady that prepares our lunches for STEP.  She often writes my name on the boxed lunch destined for me, and I’ll be treated to a special surprise (an extra piece of chicken, an extra portion, a special side, etc.).  Sometimes I get really lucky, and when she’s cooking up special dishes during the week, she drops a serving off at our house.  This beauty is a baho she made last Friday.  SOOO GOOD!!!!

Miraflor VAC Meeting

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Twice a year, Peace Corps has VAC (Volunteer Advisory Counsel) meetings.  They used to be the way information got to volunteers, before cell phones and internet reached even the most rural of areas.  Now, they’re a great reason to get the volunteers of a region together to get in-person updates and just spend some needed time together.  For our VAC meeting last weekend, the Estelí volunteers went up in the mountains of the Miraflor reserve, enjoyed the cool air, rain, and the company of good friends.  Can you spot the never-cold Norwegian?  [photo cred to David Schmidt / Khalan Boyer]