In addition to the central components of all CPS Summer Fellowships, the experience in Nicaragua is a unique opportunity to work with Project Gettysburg-León (PGL), a partnership between the borough of Gettysburg, Gettysburg College, and communities in and around the city of León, Nicaragua. PGL promotes friendship and advances sustainable development through capacity building funds, education, and cultural exchange programs. Their vision is a just world in which all people have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and are empowered to transform their communities.
Fellows are assigned a primary project with a local organization or school. Primary projects are assigned based on the interest and skills of the Fellows and the needs of the community. Potential primary projects are:
A Fellow will work directly with a local Leon organization, CIMAC, that provides primary and high school students with experiential environmental education that promotes conservation and respect for natural resources. The Fellow will co-plan and co-facilitate environmental guided walks for students with the organization’s educator. The goal of the project is to introduce dynamic and engaging teaching techniques into the guided walks and teacher trainings. Strong conversational Spanish is required as well as experience or interest in ecology, biodiversity, alternative energy, or other relevant field. CIMAC has a lot of potential, and new ideas, but is under-staffed and under-funded. The Fellow who works here should have enthusiasm to carry out new ideas but be able to cope with an ever-changing work environment.
Life Skills Education
The Life Skills Fellow will work directly with a Psychologist and Social Worker at a local partner organization to co-plan and co-implement basic education reinforcement and life skills classes. The goal of the project is to help high risk youth develop positive strategies to address challenging life circumstances and provide additional support to the organization’s professional staff. A good level of Spanish is required. An interest in education, psychology, social work, or another related field would be appropriate.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TEFL Fellows work directly with a Nicaraguan teacher to co-plan and co-facilitate English classes at the secondary level. The goal of the project is to introduce dynamic and engaging teaching techniques into the classroom and provide an opportunity for the teacher and students to practice English with a native speaker. Strong conversational Spanish is required as well as experience or interest in working with teachers and students. The school is large and busy, located near Fellows' host family homes.
Fellows also carry out a Secondary Project which gives more scope for innovation. Fellows may work together on some of these projects. They take place either during weekends in the morning or weekdays in the afternoon. Fellows opting for weekend projects could take Fridays for relaxation.
English Teaching outside the school environment
The Fellows will collaborate to hold a one hour English class for children/young people in collaboration with our partner, Xuchialt Arts School. If this is with teenagers, the class might try to involve some ‘life-skills’ discussions as well. Fluency is Spanish needed to facilitate such discussions.
The Fellows may also facilitate an English class for guides and others who work in the tourism industry. This will involve some classroom work in Xuchialt, but also active sessions in the community and practicing real-life guiding activities in local communities. This activity will especially support cooperatives that work in tourism. Tourism is a rapidly growing economic sector in Nicaragua and PGL is supportive of Community Tourism or ecotourism that ensures income reaches poor families.
Art, Music, and Dance
Assist Xuchialt with their art, music and/or dance classes during the weekend (Fellows also have the option to attend classes as a serious student!) Xuchialt classes are Saturday morning and Sunday mornings. Arts Fellows work with a Nicaraguan teacher to co-plan and co-facilitate art classes at the primary level. The goal of the project is to use engaging teaching techniques in the classes and provide an opportunity for students to enhance their artistic and creative abilities. Strong conversational Spanish is required as well as experience or interest in working with teachers and students. Experience with art is useful, but not essential.
Beauty and Carpentry
Assist Las Tias teenage Beauty school or Carpentry school. Appropriate skills required.
Arts, Crafts, and Theater
Plan & organize a weekly arts/crafts/theater session for local children in a poor suburb of León.
During the first week of orientation, Fellows are provided an introduction Nicaragua, the education system, and working with counterparts. Additionally, Fellows are provided an orientation to their specific project and the city of León. As part of the cross-cultural experience, Fellows live with Spanish-speaking host families in the Sutiaba neighborhood of León. Fellows have weekly team meetings with the PGL Director and participate in various cultural activities throughout their stay.
This 8-week experience is fully-funded by a generous gift from Jim Heston '70.
Immunizations are recommended; these costs are the responsibility of the Fellow. Please see the Nicaragua information page on the Center for Disease Control website.
Community Partner in León
Fellows work with programs and organizations connected to Project Gettysburg-León (PGL), a 30 year old sister city relationship that affirms the collective belief that we are all members of one human family and our commitment to peace and justice for all people.
The organization supports sustainable development projects in León and promotes friendship, education, and cultural exchange between the two communities.
Learn more at www.gettysburg-leon.org.
Nicaragua is slowly overcoming the after-effects of dictatorship, civil war and natural calamities, which left it one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Nicaragua has traditionally relied on agricultural exports to sustain its economy, with some progress to diversify into manufacturing in recent years. But the country's meager national wealth benefited mainly a few elite families of Spanish descent, in particular the Somoza family in the mid-20th century. This dynasty ruled the country with US backing between 1937 and the Sandinista revolution in 1979.
After the revolution the Sandinistas began redistributing property and made huge progress in the spheres of health and education. But their pro-Cuban orientation alarmed the United States, which launched a sustained campaign of embargo and armed subversion.
In the 1980’s the USA armed and financed the ‘Contra’ armed rebels to carry out attacks on Nicaragua from bases in Honduras, and mined Nicaraguan harbors. The 9 year 'Contra War’ devastated the economy. The war ended in 1990, when the Sandinistas were defeated in elections, but by then Nicaragua's per capita income had plummeted, inflation was out of control and the infrastructure was in tatters.
Peace brought some economic growth, lower inflation and lower unemployment. But this was counter-balanced by the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed thousands, left 20% of the population homeless and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
From 2012 onwards the economy has been picking up and is now showing good annual growth. Nicaragua's modest tourist industry is now booming and is a source of revenue outside the vulnerable spheres of textiles, clothing and agricultural exports. This blog post describes the potential of ecotourism in the country.
The country's attractions include wildlife-rich rainforests, volcanoes, beaches and colonial-era architecture such as that to be found in the city of León.