On Friday, the 28th of December, the great day arrived: After eight months of construction and preparation the first group moved into the new Study Center. Twelve students and their two teachers – Christine and William – came from the Solebury School, outside Philadelphia.
After spending the first night at the Study Center, they got to know the surroundings: The tour given by Paulette started at the Mariposa, followed by eating lunch there and visiting the Finca and the reading corner in Santiago. The last station was La Concha, or better: The ice cream shop in La Concha, so that everybody could cool down a little bit.
On Sunday the group joined Paulettes charla about Nicaragua, which covered not just its current situation, but also it’s beleaguered history. The talk finalized with John Pilgers documentary Nicaragua – A Nations Right To Survive. After lunch the students and the two teachers went to the Laguna de Apoyo, a crater lake located between Masaya and Granada.
On Monday, by the way the last day of 2012, the group started their volunteer work. They could choose between three different options:
Helping out at the reconstruction of the community center across the road
Working on the farm – and finally…
… reading with children in the Reading Corner
In the afternoon, the group was divided up into three, maximum four persons, to study two hours of Spanish with teachers from the Mariposa.
However, the 31th of December didn’t only consist of work and classes. At around 5 o’clock it was party time! They enjoyed the dancing on the “Mariposa dance floor” a lot and later in the evening the Nicaraguan band Son del Pueblo. Back at the Study Center they had a stunning view over the valley and the tons of fireworks Nicaraguans use to burn down.
On Wednesday morning coffee picking stood in the agenda. To get there, one has to hike circa one and a half hours, which was already exhausting. Anyway, the coffee picking itself on a steep hill isn’t easy neither. Afterwards, the group agreed that it was worth it, since in the future they will look in a different way at their everyday cup of coffee.
The following day, on Thursday, had the same program like Monday – except there was no party at night. In the evening of that day the students moved for the last two nights into homestays. All of them were quite excited about it and experienced a great and interesting time in a different environment. It’s obvious that it’s way easier to get in touch with the local community when you’re living with them. The students took advantage of it and played for instance football with some Nicas.
On Friday the group went to the close-by volcán Santiago. Later on, after lunch, they enjoyed their last four lessons of class.
On Saturday it was time to say Goodbye. It has to be said that this group was almost perfect for coming as the first one, since they were very enthusiastic. Luckily it’s not just us being thankful, but also them, as the email of William and Christine shows: