Tag Archives: Traditions

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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Home is Where the Holiday Is

For our last holiday season in Nicaragua, we wanted to be at home in Esteli and spend Christmas and New Years Eve like most Nicaraguans do: in family.  We had two main goals, one of for each holiday.  For Christmas I wanted to try the seasonal dish lomo relleno, and for New Years Eve Emily wanted to make our own viejo. Continue reading Home is Where the Holiday Is

12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Two years ago, we began a tradition in our family that would allow us to celebrate the holiday season no matter where in the world we found ourselves.  After 2014 and 2015, we figured we were getting the hang of this 12 Days of celebration and fun, but this year Nicaragua threw us a curve ball.  ACCESS Camp (the annual intensive English camp we’ve helped with the past two years) dates were changed from January to right before Christmas, so we had to be creative.  Nevertheless, our 12 Days were spent remembering to celebrate the small things, to be thankful for what we have, and to invite spontaneous joy into our lives.

The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

Continue reading 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016

May We Aprovechar Peace Corps

In May 2014, we used the ideas of May Day to start a new tradition in our family: setting intentions for the following year together. Just as May Day has been a celebration of spring and new life growing, we wanted to plant the seeds of our intentions with the hope that they would grow over the year to come. And grow they did!

In May 2015, we began reflecting on those intentions, taking a deeper look at our journey into the Peace Corps, Pre-Service Training, our first few months at site and into our first year.  It took a bit longer than we anticipated to reflect on those first five intentions, and we set our “May Day Intentions” a little late (in August) last year.  We chose to focus them on the rest of our Peace Corps service.

Thus, to celebrate May Day this year, we are echoing these intentions and for duration of our time left in Peace Corps Nicaragua:

May we seek to empower others so that our service means more than 27 months.

May we continue to set healthy expectations for ourselves.

May we embrace the present as our time here is limited.

May we be as intentional in our relationships as we are in our to do lists.

May we realize that our Peace Corps Experience is what we make of it.


We’d love to hear from you, too.  What intentions do you have (or want to set) for yourself?

From the Eyes of the Old Tiger

This is a guest post by Andrew’s father, Erik, from when he visited us in January 2016.

In his January Dicho Blog entry Andrew shared with us:

Hijo de tigre nace rayado – The son of the tiger is born striped.

In his comments he mentioned the joy of seeing their service through the new eyes of Carla and I as they introduced us to the natural beauty of Nica and the wonderful human nature of the Pinoleros whom have taken them in as family and friends. I want to share the viewpoint from the eyes of this old tiger as I reflect on our experience. Continue reading From the Eyes of the Old Tiger

12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015

Last year, Andrew had a brilliant idea for lifting our spirits during the holiday season.  We had just arrived to site and were at the beginning of our Peace Corps service. This meant that we could not have visitors nor visit the states.  To dive deeper into local celebrations, fight off feeling homesick, as well as start our own family tradition, the 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas  were born!

Each year, we re-write the classic song to include things we could find and explore during the holidays, wherever we are in the world. This year, we shared our tradition with my dad and step-mom as they visited us for a week here in Nicaragua.

The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015

Continue reading 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

Each year, families from the US Embassy and the Peace Corps office take in a few Peace Corps Volunteers to give them a little taste of home for Thanksgiving.  We had the privilege, for the second year in a row, of attending Thanksgiving dinner with the second in command at Peace Corps Nicaragua, Miguel. Not only did he take us in and treat us like family, remind us we have so much to be thankful for, but he can cook. I mean really, really cook!  Just look at this spread. It could be a picture I found online titled “beautiful Thanksgiving dinner table,” but it’s the real deal.  Here’s to good food, sharing with people close and dear to you, and remembering all the things we have to be thankful for this wonderful season.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all.