Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society
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"I learned the word concientizar in Nicaragua, "to come to one's consciousness," from my friends and mentors, be they in the capital working on building a more just country, be they women protesting and being persecuted in the streets, be they campesinas, working their land. The wide variety of people I lived and learned with in Nicaragua raised my consciousness and the process continues for me and for them."
Alicia Quiros, University of Notre Dame
The program includes three in-depth educational excursions:
- San Ramón and surrounding communities in Matagalpa (northern Nicaragua) This excursion focuses on sustainable agriculture development models and includes a rural homestay in Matagalpa. The rural homestay excursion is set up in collaboration with a small, local NGO in San Ramon, Matagalpa.
Highlights of the excursion include:
- Learning about campesina life directly from campesinos/as and sharing in their production and daily chores
- Meeting with community leaders for information on crops, cooperatives, and social services
- Experiencing the process of reconciliation as rural Nicaraguans put aside past animosities and struggle to survive in an unfavorable economic environment.
While physically challenging — students often sleep in hammocks in homes with 12-16 family members — the excursion in Matagalpa provides an important framework for the rest of the semester’s lectures.
- Caribbean Coast. An excursion to the Caribbean Coast provides students a far broader understanding of the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of Nicaraguan society. Though rich in culture and many natural resources, the people of the Caribbean Coast are the poorest in Nicaragua and struggle to survive through fishing and subsistence agriculture. The South Autonomous Region (RAAS) is predominately Creole, comprised of people of Afro-Caribbean descent. Today, the region faces increasing pressure from the dominant, Spanish-speaking portion of Nicaragua, which has been pushing eastward from the Pacific coast, expanding the agricultural frontier.
Highlights of the excursion include:
- Learning about Afro-Caribbean culture in Bluefields, which resembles a Caribbean Island city where English is spoken. The Afro-Caribbean population comprises the majority of the population.
- Visiting the Pearl Lagoon Basin communities where Nicaragua’s ethnic diversity is most evidenced. From the Creole and Mestizo community of Pearl Lagoon to the Garífuna community of Orinico and the Miskito Community of Kakabila, they all share this rich, bio-diverse basin.
In both communities, students have meetings with community leaders, health activists, and other individuals involved in protecting the cultural and political rights of the Costeños/as. During the excursion to the Caribbean Coast, students also have the opportunity to live in indigenous communities, where they learn about the special issues facing this region, including resource management, indigenous rights, and autonomy.
- Costa Rica and the Solentiname/Rio San Juan. This excursion explores transnational identities and the impacts of globalization in Costa Rica and on the Rio San Juan, Nicaragua.
Highlights of the excursion to Costa Rica:
- Accompany human and immigrant rights groups that work with Nicaraguan immigrants, like Enlaces Nicaragüenses.
- Visit Costa Rica’s emblematic community of La Carpio, where some 40,000 residents, around half of whom are immigrants from Nicaragua and other Central American countries, live in an area of 296 square kilometers, surrounded on two sides by rivers and another by a landfill that receives over 700 tons of waste daily.
- Dialog with activists from social movements like Astradomes, Asociación de Trabajadoras Domesticas, and Centro de Investigación y Promoción para America Central en Derechos Humanos (CIPAC), which works with popular education methods to eliminate social inequities related to sexual orientation.
The return trip to Nicaragua will take us through the area of La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and allow us to experience and assess the area’s renowned eco-tourism. There, we will see firsthand where globalization meets natural reserves, and then compare this Costa Rican model to the Nicaraguan model of development. We will cross back into Nicaragua at the border at Los Chiles in Costa Rica and take a boat up the Rio Frío to arrive in San Carlos on the southern side of Lake Nicaragua.
Highlights in Solentiname/Rio San Juan:
- Visit and interact with artisans in Solentiname to learn about this historic artisan community.
- Learn about and discuss Nicaragua’s polemic inter-oceanic canal project.
- Visit the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, considered one of the best preserved natural reserves in Nicaragua.
- Dialog with youth and local community leaders about the changes they have seen and learn about their strategies to channel the impact of globalization for the good of the people of the Rio San Juan while protecting the environment.
On the excursion to Costa Rica and Solentiname/Rio San Juan, students will be exposed to different development models and approaches to rights promotion and environmental protection. Students will learn about Solentiname’s historic role as one of the first Christian base communities; today, it’s a unique artisan community. They will also learn about the omnipresent border tensions between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and dialog about the role of nationalism and the impact of recent rulings by the World Court in The Hague regarding the Rio San Juan.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Managua
Language Study: Spanish
Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...
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