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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012


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Four months since our return from Nicaragua, we decided to write an article for our school's political magazine, "The Review," explaining the global repercussions of a capitalist economic system based on our own experiences and what we learned from our incredible instructors this summer. Adelaide, Dhyana, and Matt: we dedicate this yak to you guys. You are all truly inspirational human beings, and we hope to impart on our school community the knowledge you have passed on to us. Thank you so much, and we miss you all!

Love,

Caroline and Jenny

On November 23, 2012, 226 million individuals flooded stores across the United States, participating in what Americans have come to know as Black Friday. After a day of claiming thanks for family, friends, and education, Americans devote Black Friday to shopping, spending an average of $398 nationwide and extending gratitude for the buying that accompanies the onset of the holiday season. Yet this occasion of mass spending epitomizes the value Americans place on consumerism, signifying that wealth, materialism, and large-scale consumption are ideals so glorified that Black Friday is essentially a national holiday. But is a consumerist culture something that Americans should be celebrating?


Many economists believe that consumerism stimulates the American economy - that as Americans buy consumer goods, money circulates in the market and ends up in the pockets of suppliers, who in turn spend money and propagate further economic growth. As a larger sector of the population procures capital, this wealth is then transferred to the U.S. government in the form of taxpayer money and invested in American manufacturing, infrastructure, and public institutions, so that the cycle repeats itself and the economy flourishes. But this consumerist theory is precisely in line with the capitalist economic system that the United States embodies; just as Americans compete in the free market for the acquisition of wealth, so they contest in the spending of their earnings. Whoever can buy the biggest car, the most lavish house, the most fashionable clothes, and the most novel technology is clearly the most comfortable and powerful, and perhaps the happiest. Enticed by advertising and glorified by the media, we desire and envy the brand-name shoes Kim Kardashian wears, the expensive furniture in Justin Timberlake’s living room, and the enormous pool in Kanye West’s backyard. We aspire to obtain these items for ourselves, so we feel as important as celebrities seem to be or as jubilant as the woman smiling in the Target advertisement. Though our relish of a particular item may wane over time, the consumer product stands as an emblem of wealth, status, and security; a prideful reminder that in the United States, the dominant superpower, Americans have the capacity to fight not only for their survival, but far beyond: for their comfort.


But even though consumerism may generate economic gains for the United States, it supports a capitalist system that propagates our prosperity at the expense of other nations’ economic well-being, especially in the developing world. By its very nature, a free market economy relies on participation from countries across the globe, promoting a system of winners and losers where the U.S. is destined to come out on top. Yet its very success as an economic power is what dictates its influence in institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and thus, in the global economy. As these organizations advance the spread of capitalism, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica enter agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, submitting to free trade so that the IMF can pay off these countries’ colossal war debts. Ironically enough, these very war debts were inherited from dictators financially supported by the United States itself. Rather than bailing out developing countries from self incurred debt, the IMF is simply paying off money owed to the United States, lent in the first place in the support of dictatorial regimes during the 1970’s. This side of the bargain, therefore, is hardly a concession on the part of the IMF.


Latin American countries also rely on both the revenue generated from tariffs (levied on U.S. imports, particularly on agricultural products) and the protectionist economic strategy enabled by quotas, tariffs, price controls, and other trade barriers that promote local industry and agriculture. The NAFTA and CAFTA agreements, however, in the pursuit of expanding of free trade, eliminate the trade barriers that many Latin American countries so heavily depend upon, thus opening foreign markets to U.S. subsidized agricultural products that are so cheap they stamp out all competition from local Latin American farmers. The U.S., with its consumerist culture and overabundance of food, emerges victorious from the capitalist system as it gains money from selling its excess agricultural crops to nations forced into the free trade market by the IMF. On the other hand, the developing world simply cannot compete; farmers are driven to poverty and Latin American countries suffer economically. These free trade “agreements” are hardly bargains at all, but rather a vicious cycle: Latin American nations concede any prospects of economic success, the United States gains even more economic power and influence in the global economy, while the IMF continues to pan towards U.S. economic interests.



Although consumerism and the capitalist system it supports have positively affected the U.S. economy, they not only bear dire economic repercussions for the developing world, but also yield grim environmental consequences on a global scale. From advertisements to parents and teachers, we constantly hear about the new recycling techniques that prevent pollution; the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is practically second nature. But what happens to all the other trash that we idly hand over for people to take away? Most people do not take time to consider where exactly this “away” is. Each year, 195 million tons of trash disappears to what we know as dumps, but are now called “landfills,” a euphemism developed to sound more environmentally friendly. This trash includes household, industrial, and construction waste. As these landfills grow, hazardous wastes form as the accumulated trash slowly decomposes into gas or waste water. This gas can be composed of harmful chemicals that can damage the environment. Additionally, the waste water (often referred to as leachate) that contains these hazardous chemicals can travel great distances in the form of groundwater and eventually reach human civilization. Furthermore, heightened restrictions on where the landfills can be formed has created a dearth of available space for our trash. The EPA has restricted the building of landfills not only near civilization but also on faults, wetlands, floodplains, and many other areas. If we continue to create so much waste and the EPA holds fast to its restrictions, we will eventually be overflown by our own trash.


This situation seems pretty drastic, but there is a simple solution. In order to avoid the looming growth of our waste, we simply must stop creating so much of it. This may seem idealistic, if not impossible; after all, we can’t just keep everything. But herein lies the root of the problem. We have too much trash because we are addicted to the materialism ingrained in our consumerist society. If we were to stop buying in excessive amounts, we would generate less trash and curb the unchecked proliferation of waste in our landfills. Instead of focussing on properly disposing of our trash through long, expensive processes like recycling, we should focus on the root of the problem - the need to buy.

The simple action of buying on black friday fuels a capitalist system that destroys economies worldwide, generates severe environmental repercussions, and sustains a vicious cycle; a game with only one winner: The United States of America. It’s time that Americans realize the consequences their actions represent, and understand that these destructive global effects outweigh the prospects of further U.S. economic growth. As Americans, we have a responsibility not only as U.S. citizens, but as global citizens. It is up to us to digress from the consumerist society: to abandon our values placed on wealth, competition, and materialism that our parents and government have instilled within us, and start to consider how our ideology affects people around the globe.


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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Breaching the System

Caroline Kuritzkes and Jenny Heon,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

Four months since our return from Nicaragua, we decided to write an article for our school’s political magazine, "The Review," explaining the global repercussions of a capitalist economic system based on our own experiences and what we learned from our incredible instructors this summer. Adelaide, Dhyana, and Matt: we dedicate this yak to you guys. […]

Posted On

11/29/12

Author

Caroline Kuritzkes and Jenny Heon

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Just three days back into home life, instead of resuming summer life as normal, 4-week Dragons around the world are excitedly, frustratingly, patiently, impatiently, fervently, working to make sense of their summer experiences and all that they have learned and the ways in which they have grown. At the same time, I sit here in Northern Nicaragua at the home of my co-worker Dhyana, doing our own processing: Did we do a good enough job? Did we give our students and our course all that we had? Did any of it make sense to them? Did the country and the communities we visited inspire them? Forever impact them? Incite them to action? If so, what might that look like?

As we sat here missing our special students and hoping that the trip had the impact we had hoped, we got a message suggesting we check out the Wikipedia article on the FSLN. There we saw this incredible letter written today by one of our newly-returned students. I don't exaggerate at all when I say that as I read this aloud to my co-worker, tears of pride filled my eyes. We have been reading student course feedback for the last two days, all of their words about this course deeply affecting, motivating, and encouraging us. We could only hope that what they wrote the last days of course would translate into something meaningful once they got back home. Hence my deep pride and gratitude in finding out that this is what Caroline is doing with her free time three days after course and what she is feeling and acting passionately about. We plan to share this article with the community where we did our extended homestay to let them know that their hope that the gift of time and teachings they shared with our students will not be lost, and that our students, at least some, will be vehicles to share this community's side of history. ......

Response to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandinista_National_Liberation_Front

This article is dreadfully inaccurate, but not for the reasons people have mentioned in the comments before mine. This summer, I visited Nicaragua and lived in a rural community that was very politically active. I learned a lot about the Sandinista party from locals who lived in the community, many of whom were Sandinistas themselves during the Nicaraguan Revolution and Contra War, and all of which are current full fledged supporters of Daniel Ortega and the FSLN. They stressed that the Sandinista party had absolutely no affiliation with cold war politics, and therefore, was never a communist movement. However, the U.S. government and Reagan administration mistakenly believed during the early 1980's that the Sandanista party was in fact, communist, and thus could undermine the U.S. anti-communist agenda during the cold war. To crush the potential threat to U.S. authority, Reagan financially supported the Contra party (mainly consisting of wealthy landowners and former national guard members of the Somoza regime who strongly opposed the Sandinistas), giving the Contra party the capacity and financial backing to attack the Sandinistas after their revolution and launching the Contra War. Reagan even sent CIA agents to fight for the Contras against the FSLN. In sum, the Contra party received full fledged support from the United States simply because Reagan suspected the FSLN of having communist interests. The fact that this article labels the FSLN as "communist" in the first sentence is truly appalling, not only because the claim is undeniably false, but also because it was the United States who wrongly believed that the FSLN had communist ties, when in reality, the party made efforts to separate itself entirely from the agenda of the Cold War. Describing the FSLN as "communist" implies that Reagan's suspicions were correct, when in fact, they were anything but, and almost justifies the atrocities of the Contra War triggered in part by the United States. Ultimately, the U.S. was wrong; furthermore, the Reagan administration's false suspicions generated dire consequences for millions of Nicaraguan individuals, many of whom are still living with those physical and emotional repercussions today. Wikipedia has the privilege and the responsibility to take ownership of that fact. Though the writer may not have been aware of the article's implications, I am. Identifying the Sandinista party as "communist" disguises history itself to the benefit of the United States, which is utterly unacceptable. The United States is not perfect, and history knows it and is there to prove it.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Student returns home, schools popular media

Adelaide Nalley,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

Just three days back into home life, instead of resuming summer life as normal, 4-week Dragons around the world are excitedly, frustratingly, patiently, impatiently, fervently, working to make sense of their summer experiences and all that they have learned and the ways in which they have grown. At the same time, I sit here in […]

Posted On

08/8/12

Author

Adelaide Nalley

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All students have safely arrived in the US and are en route to thier homes.

In case you notice something different about your child when they return home today, this might be why:

On this course - Nicaragua, Cultivating Change, Summer 2012 – we spent 30 days engaged in a physical, mental and emotional journey that brought us from the Southern end of Isla Ometepe in the heart of Lake Nicaragua, to the northern region of Leon and the small, communal pueblo of El Lagartillo before heading towards the center of Nicaraguan life and culture – Managua and it’s surrounding cities and natural reserves. For 30 days each and every student was pushed to explore the intricacies of life in Nicaragua and to tease out the fundamental interconnectedness between this striking country and where they come from, the United States. Throughout our course we spent countless hours diving into the dynamics of Nicaraguan history and politics and the role that the United States has played in that history, both formally and covertly, as well as the internal dynamics of each student. We asked students to take an objective look at where their fundamental beliefs come from and whether, after examination, they are still beliefs that will serve them moving forward into the next chapter of their life. Through Permaculture principles and the Dragons core values, our students were able to use a framework to look at Nicaragua and their own life through a new lens. They have embarked on a great adventure and now return home with the power to bestow what they have seen, learned and experienced to all they encounter. We believe that this country and this course will indeed cultivate lasting change.

And to our students:

we miss you all already!

love,

mum, auntie, and auntie

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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In case you notice something different about your child when they return home today…

Instructors,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

All students have safely arrived in the US and are en route to thier homes. In case you notice something different about your child when they return home today, this might be why: On this course – Nicaragua, Cultivating Change, Summer 2012 – we spent 30 days engaged in a physical, mental and emotional journey […]

Posted On

07/28/12

Author

Instructors

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As human beings, it is not within us to even come close to being all knowing; in all actuality, it is quite impossible. We as human beings are flawed, destructive, and completely harmful creatures. We are harmful to ourselves, to our families, our friends, our world, and most importantly, we are harmful to all it is that we don’t know. When we buy something that we so desperately desire, our minds do not come upon the hidden aftermath that is seemingly guaranteed. All that our brain conjures up is the idea that we are happy; happy that we have satisfied this hunger for something so trivial as a car or even a pack of batteries. But it is this happiness of ours that is so strikingly common upon the vast majority of this world that we do not, at once realize the amount of harm and destruction that we are summoning to what it is that we are so unaware and blissfully ignorant to. When we do buy these trivial items we do not care about what happens to the billboards promoting cars that are no longer desirable. Or the container of the batteries that held them in place. We do not care about where it is that our trash ends up. And it wasn’t until today that I finally had an idea of where it is our trash ends up.

Today our instructor Dhyana told us about what it is we were to expect when arriving to one particular area in Nicaragua. In better words, she actually warned us about what it is that we were going to witness when arriving at “La Chureca”. Dhyana painted an image in our heads that was virtually unbearable, unlivable and compellingly exhausting. La Chureca is more or less a dump site; a place where trash is sent and piled as high as monuments and as wide as oceans with no seen end. However, La Chureca wasn’t always like this. In fact, La Chureca was a place that held inhabitants within the area. But as one disaster typically comes, without warning, the entire area was now a site where dumping means were relinquished. As the dumping continued, life in La Chureca became more and more unlivable. So why was it that the people who lived there never decided to leave? Why was it that they chose to live an area that was just “one big trashcan”? There were a fair amount of natives in La Chureca that had jobs at the dump site so leaving there would mean making true “end’s meat” for an uncertain amount of time. Speaking as if they had enough to make end’s meat and not with the idea that leaving La Chureca would mean that would be living life leading downhill. These people could not find it within themselves to leave, understandably, and because of this they live in the dumpsite where, not to reiterate myself, where trash is sent and piled as high as monuments and as wide as oceans with no seen end.

Visiting La Chureca was an experience that left me jaw dropped and my mind in knots. The people of Los Quinchos, an association dedicated to helping boys and girls rise above dark backgrounds, were working on a project to make life in La Chureca more bearable and livable. The project made a few adjustments in La Chureca to make life more livable. They were “coating” that trash with ends and ends of dirt and plants so that instead of a vast area of trash, it became more of a vast area of “make up”. Needless to say not everything was covered with dirt and plants because in no way can you live in a house filled with dirt and plants and still call it “livable”; which is why another adjustment made by the people of Los Quinchos was to build a series of houses that would be for the inhabitants of La Chureca. This housing project has been in process since 2004 and is still in the making. Fortunately, it is a project that I have very high hopes.

When visiting La Chureca, the dragons had a short amount of an hour and a half in the area. Within that time frame, we went to a building where lunch was served everyday to the children and had the pleasure of meeting them. The children were more or less a pleasant surprise for me, in particular. I was upon the idea that the children were going to be miserable, completely unwilling to converse with us, lying in the streets on the brink of death, with years of abuse. These kids were surprisingly more happy than I had first interpreted. They were smiling, getting piggy back rides, and coloring inside coloring books and actually talking to us. I was without a doubt enjoying my time with the children at La Chureca and I was happy.

However, later on within the day, our group had a debrief and it came across to me that maybe the kids were happy but it wasn’t like any of the happiness we’ve seen in Nicaragua yet. Up until this point, everything we’ve seen in Nicaragua has been fairly light. Everyone we’ve met has had enough and they’ve been, without any uncertainty, truly happy with what they have. This was not the case in La Chureca. The kids were all coloring with their crayons and coloring books but there was an eerie feeling of scarcity among them. There were only two coloring books that was to be shared among as much as 30 children, if not more, and there were definitely not enough crayons for the children individually. The children were not only hoarding the crayons but they were snatching it away from one another, showing just how scarce their quantity of items actually were and how it related to the amount of scarcity and small quantity within their lives. Not only that but also a dark, scary foreshadowing of what could possibly be in store for them in the future; a future that is set for those kids to grow up into adults with not enough of anything to truly be happy and as a result, resort to stealing and unlawful means in order to find happiness.

The trip to La Chureca, otherwise known as “the dump”, was an experience that definitely left me in a completely different and captivating state of mind from anything else I’ve felt while in Nicaragua. While being in La Chureca, I did not find it as apocalyptic and dystopian as I had imagined in my head but that does not, by any means, summarizes it as a “happy adventure”. La Chureca, in its’ current state, is not a place where anyone should have to call home, let alone children. No children should have to be raised in this sort of environment and no children should have to witness what it is that these kids are pretty much destined to experience. This horrific life form and childhood that these children are virtually trapped in are a reaction to the actions that we, as human beings who are not all knowing, have taken. The piles and piles of trash that are now in association to what La Chureca natives call home are the trash that come from not only us but the people all around the world who are just as unknowing as we were. What’s truly sad about this community is the fact that La Chureca isn’t the only of its’ kind in the world. There are plenty of horrific and terrifying places in the world that are a direct cause of everything that we do because of our unawareness and our “ignorance”, if you will. Visiting La Chureca is an experience that opened my eyes to all the destruction I’ve been contributing to unknowingly and it showed just how much I can prevent if I stop caring about such trivial things in my life. Not shopping so often could translate into less trash being thrown out and less trash being thrown out could translate into less contamination being presented among homes and less homes being contaminated could translate into happier people living happier lives.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Growing up in La Chureca

Chester Rath,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

As human beings, it is not within us to even come close to being all knowing; in all actuality, it is quite impossible. We as human beings are flawed, destructive, and completely harmful creatures. We are harmful to ourselves, to our families, our friends, our world, and most importantly, we are harmful to all it […]

Posted On

07/24/12

Author

Chester Rath

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    [post_content] => When  Carlos talks about his program, Los Quinchos, you can see the pride  light up in his eyes. He cares so much about all of his kids; and they  care about him. As we walked up the path to La Finca, the boys camp of  Los Quinchos, all of the boys took turns hugging him. And then they all  hugged us too, grabbed our hands, and walked us inside. It´s  incredible to think that these kids once lived on the streets and  struggled for survival every day - they are so full of love and energy.  After a tour through the beautiful developement, equipped with a  rain-fed swimming pool and a futbol sala court, the kids dictated a  fantastic morning filled with piggy-back races, unlimited games of  chicken in the pool, and competitive futbol sala. Futbol sala is a  particularly interesting game; 6 on 6 or 5 on 5, on a concrete court  with 1-foot walls, with no shoes, and lots of great physicality. To say  the least, it is fantastically fun. After a great morning, we switched  gears and headed over to the girls´ area. While I was originally  apprehensive about having nothing to do with the girls, I was quickly  swept into two full hours of dancing. In the process, I might have  broken a chair because I laughed so hard. All in all, it was a  fantastic day. Los Quinchos is truly an amazing program.
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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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The Kids

Matthew Levey,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

When Carlos talks about his program, Los Quinchos, you can see the pride light up in his eyes. He cares so much about all of his kids; and they care about him. As we walked up the path to La Finca, the boys camp of Los Quinchos, all of the boys took turns hugging him. […]

Posted On

07/22/12

Author

Matthew Levey

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For the past week, I have woken up at six in the morning to various sounds, roosters, my host mother, Rufina, making tortillas, dogs parking, and last but not least Spanish soap operas on the family television. One day this week I managed a run with Analisa and Jenny.

I wake up so early here, that from the time I wake up each morning to when Spanish class starts (6-8am) I watch or attempt to help my host mother with the daily making of tortillas. Breakfast is normally tortillas with ‘cuajada’ and some fruit. At 7 and again at about 7­:45 my house is flooded with students of about sixteen years on their way to or from classes. Though there is only one 16 year old in my house, Maria Jose, it seems as though the entire population of 16 year olds in the community make thier way through my house each morning.

After two hours of Spanish classes with Caroline, Eileen and Jenny and about two hours of group disscusion, I return to my house to eat tortillas with ‘cuajada’, talk, and sit with my family. At two, I return for two more hours of Spanish classes. From four to six the dragons group (or those of us who are still healthy) attempt to help construct a garden for one of the families in the community. Our work consists of digging, shoveling, rolling wheelbarrows, constructing raised beds, and being eaten alive by ants. ´Los ormigas no son mis amigas’ If it doesn’t rain, we can do two full hours of work.

As the sun sets, we return to our homes for a dinner of tortillas with ‘cuajada’ and possibly some tomatos or cucumber too. Some nights my house if full of people of all ages, other nights it is just me and one of my host parents. One think is certain every night, a dramatic ‘telenovela’ in harmony with ohhs and ahhs of at least one person in the house.

From the past week I have learned many things. (the following is a little tidbit of something that has struck me in the past week)

What is a house?

The differences I have noticed are immense. In the United States a home is a private place. People come when invited, even then most people would knock and wait to be invited in again.

In Nicaragua a home is a very public place. I wake up to find people whom I have never seen before and upon returning from our daily routines, I find a crowd of strangers ingrossed in the current ‘telenovela’. In the community of Largatillo, a house, any house, is a place to socialize, eat, drink, or relax. People walk in, fill a glass with water, and continue on their way, sometimes without saying a word. Instead of going somewhere like a park or a restaurante to chat or meet with friends, here, all of that socailizing hapeens at peoples’ houses.

This exemplifies what I have expirienced in Largatillo in the past week. The families in the community have been so welcoming that if is hard to wrap my head around. My host mother, Rufina, laughs at my attempts to make tortillas but she has yet to give up on teaching me. (though this morning I produced my first ‘bonita’ or at least not ‘feo’ tortilla) I cannot imagine what the next week will bring.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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What is a house

Sarah Reeve,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

For the past week, I have woken up at six in the morning to various sounds, roosters, my host mother, Rufina, making tortillas, dogs parking, and last but not least Spanish soap operas on the family television. One day this week I managed a run with Analisa and Jenny. I wake up so early here, […]

Posted On

07/19/12

Author

Sarah Reeve

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    [post_date] => 2012-07-19 00:00:00
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There is no television ¨donde esta Ermenia and Amancio.¨ Back in Livingston, New Jersey, my house has four. There are no ipods here. Music comes from old phones or broken radios. Back in the states, I have two ipods all to myself. Forget internet everywhere, or even computers for that matter. Forget microwaves, refrigerators, or electric ovens. Don´t worry about hot water for your shower, or cold water for your drinks. Push couches, large beds, and more than one pillow out of your head. Aqui en Nicaragua, no tenemos.

But there is community. Neighbors walk in and out of our house freely. My homestay parents are the parents of 8 children and the grandparents of 15. I can´t even count the number of homestay brothers or cousins I have. Eduardo, Russel from Florida, Jose Angel. As Jose Angel, or Chango, as he is called, told me ¨todos las personas en El Lagartillo son mis primos.¨ Instead of video games or a TV, every night we sit in a circle and play guitar and sing songs together. Everyone says hello to everyone on the street. The older kids and the younger kids all play soccer together - doesn´t matter if you are good or not. No one complains; it appears that everyone is in a perpetual state of happiness, living together in a tight knit community and working together on farms and gardens.

I´ve come to realize that material possessions at home fail in comparison to the sense of community and family here in El Lagartillo. At home, I don´t even know my own neighbor, but I have two ipods and a computer. But it appears that I prefer to play guitar with my neighbors; I´ll sacrifice the electronics.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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No tenemos

Matthew Levey ,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

There is no television ¨donde esta Ermenia and Amancio.¨ Back in Livingston, New Jersey, my house has four. There are no ipods here. Music comes from old phones or broken radios. Back in the states, I have two ipods all to myself. Forget internet everywhere, or even computers for that matter. Forget microwaves, refrigerators, or […]

Posted On

07/19/12

Author

Matthew Levey

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My fourth night in El Lagartillo, I woke in the middle of the night with a queesy feeling in my stomach. It´ll pass, I thought, I´ll sleep it off. I tossed and turned for the next twenty minutes until my host mom, Francisca, asked from the other side of the was ¨Estas enferma Juan_¨

¨Estoy bien, pero mi estomago... voy a estar bien manana.¨ Ten minutes later, I couldn´t hold it any longer. I jumped up and puked out the window.¨ Si, Estoy enfermo...¨ I offered to clean up, but since it was outside, my host family told me we could wait until morning. Later that night I heard a large animal outside my window slurping and gulping. The pig cleaned up my whole mess for me!

I am inspired by the efficient and simplicity of Nicaraguan life. It is permaculture at its finest! When my host family drops crumbs on the floor, they are not concerned. The chickens come in and clean up. Liquid spills seep into the earthen floor. I saw the cat eating a whole discarded cob of corn.

We in the States create so much extra work for ourselves that Nicaraguans let take care of its self. When I return to the States, I will try to incorporate the lesson of simplicity and humbleness in to my life. This trip makes me feel comfortable with the idea of living in a small house with few positions. The less excess material you have, the more you can enjoy life.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Lessons in Farm Life

Jon W,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

My fourth night in El Lagartillo, I woke in the middle of the night with a queesy feeling in my stomach. It´ll pass, I thought, I´ll sleep it off. I tossed and turned for the next twenty minutes until my host mom, Francisca, asked from the other side of the was ¨Estas enferma Juan_¨ ¨Estoy […]

Posted On

07/19/12

Author

Jon W

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    [post_date] => 2012-07-18 00:00:00
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Coming to Nicaragua I had no Idea of what was to come, nor did I ever think that the color of my skin would ignite such curiosity amongst the people of EL lagartillo. Back home in the U.S we hear a lot about racism, the civil war and the struggle between whites and Blacks. But I never realized that racism existed in other countries besides America. I recently just learned about Nicaraguan History and what I learned was really hard for me to comprehend. Apparently, Nicaragua is made up of both Spanish and Afro Caribbean descents. To summarize exactly what I learned, these two parts of Nicaragua had been separated for most of the revolution until they were incorporated back into Nicaraguan life.

To be very clear, I had no problem being the talk of the town simply because I knew it was all out of curiosity. The Nicaraguan people wanted to know where I was from, what my family was like and if there were other African Americans in America. For most days I found the situation funny in a sense and I enjoyed answering all of these questions. After a while it became really hard for me to deal with the level of curiosity most people had of me. Everywhere I went was either glared at or I could hear the locals saying, ¨Mira la chica morena,´´ but it made me realize the perception most people in other countries have of Americans. Most people expect Americans who travel to be rich white people but, for me that was not the case. Americans who travel are not always white but I understand how hard it might be for Nicaraguans or even other people to see it that way.

Over all in life people are categorized by each other, whether it is the way we talk, act or live there will always be stereotypes. As a part of immersing myself in Nicaraguan culture, I am learning that not everyone thinks the way I do, sometimes if you are taught one thing you have no choice but to live and trust in what you have learned. Hopefully by being here in Nicaragua I am teaching people more about America. Through it all I know that it is okay to break out of the box and do the unexpected.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Breaking the Box

Ashley Brun,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

Coming to Nicaragua I had no Idea of what was to come, nor did I ever think that the color of my skin would ignite such curiosity amongst the people of EL lagartillo. Back home in the U.S we hear a lot about racism, the civil war and the struggle between whites and Blacks. But […]

Posted On

07/18/12

Author

Ashley Brun

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    [post_date] => 2012-07-18 00:00:00
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time in Nicaragua, it’s that the world is a vast vessel filled with countless numbers of differences; whether that be in countries, cultures, societies or just people in general. Everyone and everything is different. We all work and operate differently in society and in our own cultures. In many ways Nicaragua is as different as you can get from the States but in a different perspective, Nicaragua is a pixel perfect reflection of the States. There are differences to be found and realized all over this Earth but it’s up to us whether or not we choose to see it. We could go anywhere and everywhere looking for what reminds us best of home. We could go to the private and intimate homes of Nicaraguan natives and look for similarities like food, beds, sports or simply even living conditions. OR we can embrace ourselves in the Nicaraguan lifestyle and live completely by their rules and standards. It is only until then can you make a conscious step towards becoming a global citizen; a conscious step towards becoming a human being who understands the world around them and how different it may possibly be. And it would be utterly sorrowful if I was to be here in Nicaragua and not fully immerse myself in the lives of the Nicaraguan natives. It would be nothing but a shame if I was to be here in Nicaragua but not be present. On that note, I’m choosing to end this Yak rather short in order to continue to immerse myself in the Nicaraguan lifestyle and make a valiant effort in becoming not only a global citizen but just a better person in general; a person who I can truly be proud of; a dragon.

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Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

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Dragons

Chester Rath,Nicaragua: Cultivating Change, Summer 2012

Description

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time in Nicaragua, it’s that the world is a vast vessel filled with countless numbers of differences; whether that be in countries, cultures, societies or just people in general. Everyone and everything is different. We all work and operate differently in society and in our own cultures. […]

Posted On

07/18/12

Author

Chester Rath

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