This weekend saw the beginings of the construction on the new land. The idea is to create a centre for groups to come and study, both Nicaraguans and students from abroad. We can offer courses (for foreign university students, high school kids, church groups) not only in Spanish but also history, developement issues, environmental issues and others. Some we can teach ourselves (my doctorate for example is in development studies) but we also have many Nicaraguan contacts who can offer exciting courses. This all started with the University of Maine who sent a group of students down last year and are doing so again this year. We designed a custon made curriculum together with their professors – a mixture of Spanish, volunteer work on one of our projects, with classes on, amongst other things, history and eco-tourism. Each student is, furthermore, undertaking their own individual project – everything from eco-architecture (which of course fits well with helping us with this new build) to how Nicaragua is viewed by North Americans. A lot of really stimulating stuff!
The building then will have a dormitory area for groups of up to 16 and we will also be able to offer homestays with families in the local barrio. The classrooms will be built alongside the part of the land with spectacular views over Lake Managua, the Volcan Masaya and as far as Lake Cocibolca. So if anyone gets bored in class there is something to gaze at! There will also be a number of chilling out areas and places to do the Spanish homework!
The photo below is of me and Ismael, his brother Marcos (who is heading up the whole building team) drawing the plan of the dormitory building which will be of volcanic rock and a locally grown cane.
The first part of the construction to go up is the eating and meeting area. This will have a lovely palm thatched roof and a specialised team from just outside Leon started work on Saturday and will finish the work on Tuesday!!! The wooden posts are eucalyptus which is good to use because as a tree it grows super fast and is also bad for surrounding vegetation as it sucks up a lot of water. The walls will be straw bale, work starts on that today.