June 29 to July 18, 2017
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. Students will begin their Nicaraguan experience by spending a day in the colonial city of Granada in order to explore the rich history and culture of this nation. Then, they will travel to Ometepe to begin their project work. Because of its unique volcanic geography and ecological diversity, this island 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 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 local skilled laborers and parent volunteers to construct a new classroom utilizing eco-bricks made from 6,000 plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in local landfills or Lake Nicaragua. SStS students will also use their English fluency to support language instruction at the school. Working in groups, SStS students will design and deliver engaging English lessons to elementary students. In addition, SStS students will participate in community events and walk the local students to and from school each day to get to know their families. While on Ometepe, the group will also have the opportunity to kayak in Lake Nicaragua, 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 creating and delivering interactive lessons at the elementary school in addition to constructing a new classroom for the Ometepe Bilingual School that utilizes recycled plastic bottles.
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 Granada and Managua, they will also stay in hostels.
After arriving in Managua, the group will drive for about an hour to Granada. After a couple days in Granada, they will travel several hours by van and boat 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.
After spending the first two days of the course in the small colonial city of Granada, 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.