Since 2001 the Lopez School Spanish Club has been taking a biannual service learning trip to Nicaragua. The two and a half week trip takes place in February and not only includes reinforcing the students’ knowledge of Spanish but a historical and economic perspective of this small developing country as well. A small NGO outside of Managua, The Center for Development in Central America provides food, housing, transportation, service work, and guest speakers for the students.
In 2013 students painted the water tower, climbed onto the roof of the clinic and swept away leaves. Others calibrated eyeglasses, painted and varnished benches and shelves, built cabinets and assisted the nursing staff.
In 2011, the students dug a 13x13x13 foot hole for a septic tank (and mixed and poured the concrete by hand to make the tank!) for a local spinning cooperative. They worked along side the cooperative members learning construction skills and more about the life of the Nicaraguan people. Toward the end of the trip the group spent four days at a rural organic coffee cooperative up in the hills outside of Leon. The work there was helping lay a 3000 foot long water line to a well at the bottom of the hill so the 43 families can have running water. El Porvenir, the coffee cooperative, does not have electricity or running water. The students were able to wander around this small community, meet people, and play with the children. We brought school supplies to the local school, shared songs, exchanged letters, and ended with a four on four soccer match - Nicaragua vs. America on the local soccer field that included many obstacles, including a swing set.
The guest speakers the CDCA provides give the students a background in the history and the complex economics of this small developing country. They also include a couple of "tour" days where the students could see Managua, a craft market, and historical sites - a very well rounded program. Part of the tour included visiting an organization that feeds children in the Managua dump and a visit to the banana workers squatter community which is trying to get help for being exposed to chemicals over many years while harvesting the banana crop for export.
In a very short time the students have an opportunity to taste, touch, smell, hear, and see a world much different from their own and yet they realized that the Nicaraguans share the same hopes and dreams that they have. Many students have come back from this experience and gone on to universities and have become fluent in Spanish, majored in international studies, and a number have returned to Nicaragua to give more of their time and energy to this struggling country.
Nicaragua Trip 2013
Click to follow the adventures of our Lopez students as they chronicled their service trip to the Center for Development for Central America in Nicaragua
2011 Trip video Part 1
2011 Trip Video Part 2
2011 Trip Slides
April 2009 Trip Slides