Monday, May 28, 2012

Update from Nicole ... "an incredible community."

When I arrived in Nicaragua as a summer intern two weeks ago, I was not sure what to expect. Since then, I can honestly say I have been floored by the intensity of Manna's connection with the community. I feel like Manna Project is the definition of holistic community development and the mission of "communities serving communities" truly is being met.

I am involved in a number of programs including English classes for all ages/levels, the child sponsorship program, sexual and reproductive health classes, computer classes, horse therapy for children with special needs, and women's exercise. Because I am a medical student, I have also had the unique experience of shadowing doctors in the clinic in La Chureca. It is really quite impressive how all of these programs work together to develop assets within the communities where we work and bring each of them closer together.

In addition to helping with programs, I have been able to spend a lot of time with the people in the community in a more casual setting. During our first week here, each of the summer interns went and had dinner with a family at their house. This is something new Manna Project is doing to immerse us in the community. It was incredible to experience the families' generosity and hospitality firsthand. It also shows how much these people love and appreciate Manna.

I have also been doing an English-Spanish exchange with one of the community members. We meet for four hours each week and practice English for her sake and Spanish for mine. When I was at her house on Friday, she explained to me how much Manna has helped her over the years and talked to me about a lot of past Program Directors that have impacted her life. She also told me that our meetings/exchanges are helping her more than I can imagine and she thinks if we keep practicing, she will be able to get a job at a call center (a dream job for many people here). It was heart-warming and encouraging to hear just how big Manna can be to the people it serves.

This week, I plan to do a homestay with one of the families in Cedro Galan. I am sure it will be an awesome experience and only further my feel for the fabric of this incredible community.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Casa de Ben Linder celebrates 25 years!

Summer Interns visit Casa de Ben Linder

They also got to see the finished product painted by muralist Gerardo Hern├índez 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beginner's English: A teacher's pride

This week we have a guest post from Fiona about our Adult Beginner's English classes, which does a great job of reflecting what I also feel about our two amazing groups of students. Enjoy!

Four times a week, Sam and I teach a beginner's English class - Mondays and Wednesdays to about 15 students at El Salero, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to about 20-25 students at El Farito.  There used to be only one beginner's English class, but Sam and I started the new one at El Salero about 7 months ago because some of our teen English students were clearly interested in and capable of an adult English class.  Beginner's English has been one of my favorite programs this year, and we have a lot of fun teaching the class.  Our students are fantastic (most of the time...:-)) and it's a fun level of English to teach.

Last week, since we had finished our six-ish month curriculum, we gave a placement test to our students.  The test was to determine if they had learned enough in beginner's English to move on to our second English level.  Out of the 33 students who took the exam, 20 of them received a high enough score to pass!  I am so, so proud of our students and how much they have learned - the reality is that when we only have 2 hours of class a week, there's only so much we can do as teachers, and the students have to motivate themselves to study more and learn English.  I am particularly excited for our teen English students, because I have no doubt that they will quickly advance through our English levels if they stay motivated and will be able to speak very good English before they graduate from high school.  Knowing English is a huge help in getting jobs here in Nicaragua, so it will be a very useful skill for them to have at such a young age.

Every rose has its thorns, though, and this is no exception.  The 20 students who passed the exam will be moving up to elementary, and Sam and I are very sad to see them go.  It'll be strange not to go to our English classes next week and be greeted by the familiar faces of our students, but we're hoping to have a new batch of students interested and excited about learning English!

 Farito Beginner's English

Salero Beginner's English (the silly version)