NICARAGUA

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Teen volunteers with VISIONS Nicaragua will visit what is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere to work on projects that address issues surrounding poverty and natural resources. Projects include the construction of potable water systems, the construction of a two-story community center, and volunteering at a summer day camp for children. Participants will have the opportunity to practice Spanish while working alongside local friends, and while visiting a “green” coffee farm, hiking through cloud forests, and exploring the Bosawás biosphere reserve.

PROGRAM DATES

June 29 to July 19 $4950

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH?

Your work will involve the construction of potable water systems, bringing clean drinking water to communities that never imagined such a luxury. You will also help build a community center for visiting physicians who perform vital surgeries, and volunteer at a day camp for local children.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

The Nicaraguan culture is social and lively, and you will spend many afternoons practicing Spanish with community members, playing sports and games with kids, exploring town, preparing local foods, and breaking into pairs for “dinner stays” with families.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

You will visit at an ecological coffee farm, take scenic hikes, learn the craft of black pottery, and visit Nicaragua’s largest artisan market. You will also explore the second biggest rainforest in the Americas and Laguna de Apoyo, a stunning crater lake where you can kayak and swim.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

Nicaragua is second only to Haiti as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our partner there is Asociación de Voluntarios para el Desarrollo Comunitario (AVODEC), a nonprofit that tackles issues surrounding poverty and natural resources. VISIONS teens have constructed numerous potable water systems, bringing clean drinking water to communities that never imagined such a luxury. In addition to water projects, you will help build a two-story community center that will serve in part as a facility for visiting physicians who perform vital surgeries. You also will have the chance to volunteer at a summer day camp for children, teaching crafts and basic English.

FEATURED PARTNER

AVODEC is a grassroots organization that does sustainable development projects and improves the quality of life for rural Nicaraguans. Engineers, environmentalists and community planners at AVODEC build potable water systems serving hundreds of people, construct community centers and schools, and even organize monthly visits from U.S. doctors who tend healthcare needs.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

Nicaraguans embrace life with openness and optimism. The culture is social and lively, and we spend many afternoons after work doing what Nicaraguans do—playing sports and games with kids, exploring town, hiking the popular Peña de la Cruz for a panoramic view of Jinotega, taking dance lessons and going out for a couple of karaoke nights. You will visit an historic cathedral, host a guest speaker who was an instrumental peacemaker during wartime, prepare local foods with our cook, and break into pairs for weekly “dinner stays” with families. You will be able to practice your Spanish skills and return home having made local friends you’ll yearn to visit again.

OUR HOME BASE:

JINOTEGA

We live in the central highland city of Jinotega. In the cloud forests where the climate is cooler than the lowlands, Jinotega nestles at the base of a mountain range in a region renowned for coffee production.

While Nicaragua is a budding tourist hotspot, Jinotega is not a well-known destination. For VISIONS, this is one of its charms. We started our work in Nicaragua in 2007, drawn to the gaucho-Old West culture where one can also take in aromas of coffee being roasted throughout town. Well past the civil war of three decades ago, Nicaraguans now are focused on gradual economic development, sustainable and green initiatives, and improving standards of living. Teens on this summer program have a unique opportunity to be part of some of some of the important changes taking place in northern Nicaragua.

We visit at an ecological coffee farm, seeing coffee production from start to finish, and hiking to scenic vistas. You will spend a day learning the craft of black pottery and also visit Mercado Viejo, Nicaragua’s largest artisan market. Explore the Bosawás biosphere reserve, the second biggest rainforest in the Americas. Spend a day and night at Laguna de Apoyo, a stunning crater lake where you can kayak, swim, and take in Nicaragua's ecological abundance.

EXPLORE NICARAGUA WHILE YOU EXPERIENCE VISIONS

DAILY LIFE

We live together as a group in a large home in one of Jinotega’s neighborhoods. There are showers and bathrooms, a kitchen and communal space, separate sleeping quarters for boys and girls, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.

Service projects are five days a week and usually end mid-afternoon. You get to choose your worksite each day, one of which is the primary construction site. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” instead of a worksite. This crew of a few participants and a leader makes breakfast, goes to local markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life” of northern Nicaragua.

Afternoons after work are for cultural activities and nearby outings: games with local kids, chatting with neighbors, short hikes, workshops, and plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish. Weekends and a few other days are set aside for travel and excursions during the first session. The second, shorter session includes some of the same highlights as the first session, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.

Meals include vegetarian and meat options, and a local cook prepares all our dinners. A few evenings a week, we have group meetings to talk through the cultural and volunteer experience.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home and are part of the fabric of daily life. The itineraries provide an overview of some of our activities in Nicaragua.

ITINERARY

First Day

  • Arrivals to Managua & Drive to Jinotega

During Trip

  • Orientation & Welcome Dinner
  • First Full Day of Worksites
  • Fourth of July Cookout with local friends
  • Short work day for full afternoon of artisan workshops
  • Organic Coffee Plantation Excursion
  • Community Day: Visit Host Families, Pickup Sports, Social Time
  • Peñas Blancas Ecolodge & Waterfall Hike
  • Day Stays with Local Families (done in pairs)
  • Community Goodbye Dinner
  • Overnight Excursion: Masaya Volcano, the Old Market, Laguna de Apoyo

Last Day

  • Departures from Managua

MORE DETAILS

  • Summer leaders receive students at the Managua airport and then travel three hours by bus to Jinotega. Leaders also see each participant off from the airport at the end of the program.
  • Parents receive a call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
  • We live together as a group in a rented house, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. VISIONS provides bunk beds, and participants bring their own sheets and pillow.
  • VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
  • We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
  • Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.

NOT QUITE READY?

We'd be happy to get you in touch with a parent whose child has already been through one of our programs.

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