January 7 to January 23, 2018
Nicaragua is a nation of awe-inspiring natural beauty. It is also the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere where only 50% of children finish 5th grade. Amidst these difficult conditions, SStS’s non-profit partner, the Ometepe Bilingual School, aims to harness the natural splendor of this area to fulfill the need for higher quality bilingual education. After arriving in Managua, students will travel to the volcanic island of Ometepe to begin their project work. Because of its unique geographic and ecological diversity, this island, consisting of two volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua, has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This designation has led more tourists to begin visiting the island. Despite the increased economic opportunities that the growth of tourism has created, access to quality education is still limited in this region. The Ometepe Bilingual School intends to change this reality.
While in Merida, the SStS group will support two different service projects. First, they will work with the non-profit Picture Change to teach local students photography skills which will allow them to tell their own stories and learn skills that have future economic value. Students will also take advantage of their English fluency to lead an English immersion summer camp that will help local students improve their language skills over summer vacation. In addition to these projects, SStS students will walk the local students home each day to get to know their families as well as participate in community dinners and intercultural exchanges. While on Ometepe, the group will also have the opportunity to kayak to Monkey Island, hike to a waterfall, and explore remote beaches. In this striking and unique island setting, the students will have ample opportunities to reflect upon what they have learned about global citizenship.
The SStS students will spend time teaching photography with Picture Change in addition to leading a summer enrichment camp focused on English language immersion.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
Because a majority of the course occurs in a rural agricultural village with few cars, the students will primarily walk or bike to visit sites near Merida. The group will also have the opportunity to explore various sites on the volcanic island of Ometepe on a couple lengthy day hikes.
While at the rural project site, the students will live in simple dorm rooms at the Hacienda Merida, a hostel that uses its profits to support the school. While in Rivas and Managua, they will also stay in hostels.
After arriving in Managua, the group will drive for about two hours to Rivas. The next day they will travel by boat and van to the island of Ometepe. Finally, they will return by boat and van to Managua on the final day of the course.
Students will spend two weeks at Hacienda Merida. Although students do not stay with individual families, opportunities exist each day to interact with the children at the school, their families, and the Nicaragua staff at the Hacienda.
The group will spend a majority of their time in Merida, a rural farming and fishing village on Ometepe, a sparsely populated island in Lake Nicaragua.
During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Nicaragua program from the important viewpoint of our students.
Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder’s mission is to inspire and support generations of ethical leaders.