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Nicaragua Service Learning Semester 2007

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March 28th, 2007

El Salador

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 We just got back yesterday from El Salvador, and it was a pretty awesome trip... minus a nasty food poisoning. The eleven hour bus ride wasnt so fun, but it was totally worth it! We hear a speaker from the Co-Madres which is a group that is looking for their disappeared or assassinated children from the civil war so that they can finally find some closure to their greif. Alicia talked to us and the mission of the organization as well as her personal story were really inspiring. We also went to Divina Providecia which is where Monsenor Romero house is, and the church where he was shot. It was incredible to be there where he had lived and worked and was killed. His house is now a little museum and its incredible some of the pictures and things that are preserved there. The next day I was really sick and I missed a lot of really awesome things. Although I had a really interesting encounter with a Salvadoran OB-GYN because apparently the place we were staying at had connections there and I could get an appointment right away. Yea I went to an OB-GYN for food poisoning, and that was a mistake lol. Saturday I was also pretty sick, so I did nothing during the day, but I did go to the March for Romero that night. It was incredible how many people were there. Sunday we went to an awesome mass in the basement of the Cathedral where Romero is buried. It was an awesome mass, I just wish I had understood a little more! Then we went to  community which is one of the poorest in El Salvador and is right next to a huge developed ritzy shopping mall. The government is trying to oust these people from land that is rightfully theirs in order to build housing and a golf course there. It was so sad, and really showed the continuing corruption of the government. Over all I wish I hadn´t gotten sick, but it was an awesome trip none the less. We practiced our Spanish a lot which was really good, and we learned so much!! Exactly one more month left!!! Its crazy how quickly time has gone by!
Lots of Love
Kaitlyn

March 20th, 2007

(no subject)

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I am sorry that it has been almost a month since I have written!!! I cant believe how fast time has gone by. And now theres so much to say! The first week of March, some of our families were here visiting, and it was so weird to have our Nica and our US families together. But seeing other peoples families made me miss mine more, but it would have been so weird if they were here! Last week we went to the Atlantic Coast, which has such a different history that it is almost like another country. There is a lot of diversity on the Coast and it was really interesting to learn about the differences in history and culture. We were so confused about what language to speak while we were there! We would start speaking in SPanish and they would look at us funny since they spoke English. Actually, a lot of people on the coast are trilingual and they speak Creole English, English, and Spanish. Our last day there we went to Pearl Cays which is kind of like the Florida Keys, and it was SO gorgeous. I got a pretty sweet tan while I was there! Tomorrow we are going to El Salvador for 5 days, and we are going to be there for Romero's Anniversary, which I am way excited about! Everyday we learn so much, I don't know what I am going to do with all of the information when I return to the States. The other day we saw a video about US imperialism because of the four year anniversary of the war in Iraq, and people here were trying to act in solidarity. It was really interesting to see our country from another perspective as this whole semester has allowed me to do. Well I'll try to write sooner next time! Paz y Amor Kaitlyn

February 26th, 2007

Ocotal!

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   Yesterday we got back from our five days in Ocotal, and I don´t think that I have ever done so many different things and learned so much in five days!! The first day we just took a tour of Ocotal and meet our families. Thursday we went to Finca Monte Libano, which is a coffee farm. Coffee grown at a high altutude in the shade is apparently better, and this farm definitely fit those descriptions. We were in the Segovia mountains, and we climbed through the property of the farm which was essentially like climbing through a forest on a mountain. Then we got to pick coffee, which grows in a fruit, and we got to watch the de-pulping, drying, de-shelling, roasting and tasting processes. It was sooo interesting! We also got to eat at River Coco and see La Virgen de la Pierda, which is a statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle of a mountain. Friday we went to a cooperative where tomatoes and chiles are grown in conjunction with US AID and ADRA, and it was really interesting to see how this organizations function at a base level, and ways in which they aren´t really helping. Then we went to an organic fertilizer farm, and learned all the ingredients and got to help in the process of making some. Afterwards we went to a different part of the river and ate and swam! We also went to a small town called Somoto, and saw some awesome old churches. On Saturday we went to Canyon Somoto, which was so amazing!! We climbed for a while and then swam in the river in the canyon, and then went on this tubing/walking tour through the canyon and we got to jump off the cliffs into the water! Saturday night we had a goodbye party, and our families were sooo sweet and gave us goodbye presents, even though we had only been there for 5 days! On Sunday we visited Cuidad Antigua which is one of the oldest cities in Nicaragua, and we saw a church that was built in the early 1600´s. We also went to a pottery cooperative, and to various little museums. While we were in Ocotal three Nicaraguan Spanish professors who are about our ages came everywhere with us so that we could continue to use spanish the whole time that we were there. We also had two guides that were soo fascinating, both having fought in the Contra War in the 80´s. Everyone we met in Ocotal was really sweet, and we learned so much in our short little time there! Plus it was gorgeous, so of course, I took lots of pictures!!
    Today at service there were only 13 kids in our class for some reason so things were a little quieter than usual! One boy, Axell who is always crazy sat with me for a while playing with Play Dough because we were playing a game with a button he kept hiding. I was really impressed with how long I got him to sit still! Granted the rest of the time he was wreaking havoc as usual! :) 
    Its crazy how quickly time has passed here, it feels like time has gone by quickly, but like we´ve been here forever at the same time because we´ve packed so many different things into four short weeks! Well, I hope all is well at home, paz y amor Kaitlyn!

February 19th, 2007

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    Hola! This weekend we went to Ometepe which is an island in Lake Nicaragua that essentially is two volcanoes! One of them was actually active, and half of our grouped climbed it which was really awesome. The rest of us spent the day at Finca Magdelena which is a coffee cooperative, and we got to see some awesome Petroglyphs, one of which used to be a sacrificial stone...the place where people were sacrified! It was pretty awesome. We also got to swim in Ojo de Agua which was a warm spring water hole. They had a rope swing into the water which was fun! On the ferry on the way back, we were all trying to catch up with our work so we were reading our history book, despite the rocking of the waves, and getting splashed! It was a little crazy.
     Last week for Valentine's Day, Matt Amy and I had lunch at our service site with everyone who works there. They made a huge valentine and included our names, it was really sweet of them! Most of the kids at the Olla are starting to behave a lot better, and now we're used to the routine, so it makes a little more sense. However, there are still some delinquent children who never want to sit still or eat. This Wednesday we're going to Ocotal for 5 days for a different cultural immersion experience. We also get to stay with families there, so I'm pretty excited! I hope all is well at home! Love and miss you all! Paz y amor Kaitlyn

February 13th, 2007

Granada

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  This weekend we took a day trip to Granada, which was so awesome! We toured the historical buildings in the city and then we took a little boat on a tour of the 360 little islands in Lake Nicaragua. We stopped on one of the islands that had two pools made out of stones and got to go swimming! It was so gorgeous, and I finally got started on my tan :). That night we went to a poetry festival, and got to see Carlos Mejia Godoy in concert. He is huge here... he wrote revolutionary songs in the 1970´s and everyone here knows him. It wa really awesome seeing him in concert. This week at Olla de la Soya has been really interesting because the teachers weren´t there today, and yesterday the kids were little devils. But we´ve been making it there and back safely even on the bus, so I´m grateful for that. I love being able to work with kids everyday, even if it is frustrating to not understand them, and that they don´t understand me (mostly because I have no idea what to say to them!). Its been really really hot here this past week, and I think I would´ve died without the fans here! I hope that you are all enjoying the cold in the States. We started Spanish yesterday, and there are three people in my class, so its really beneficial and we get lots and lots of one on one work. Thanks so much for all of your messages, it is great to hear from all of you! Love you lots! Paz y Amor -Kaitlyn

February 7th, 2007

Olla de la Soya!

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        Hi  from Nicaragua!! Last night we decided our service placement for the next three months, and I am going to be working at the Olla de la Soya which means Pot of Soy. Its a center than provides education and nutrition for young kids. I am so excited to start tomorrow, but I am nervous about finding my way there next week when Martin isn`t going to drive us all everyday. But I`m going with Amy and MAtt and I know that we can work it out. Today we went to Huelles de Acahualinca which means footprints of Acahualinca, and there are footprints and pottery from some of the earliest civilizations on this hemisphere! It was really awesome because everything wasn`t in a glass case like in museums in the States- our tour guide (who thankfully spoke English) even touched the artifacts while she was talking about them. It was awesome! Oh yea, Xavier Basketball was on the news here because of the amazing half-court shot at the buzzer! It was the only college basketball game that was reported on, so thats pretty awesome! Ok well Adios, and enjoy the cold!!!

January 31st, 2007

Nicaragua!

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        I am here and safe in Nicaragua! I have a correction though, because we are on daylight savings time, there is only an our difference, so its 1:20 here and 2:20 at home. Anyways, I found out who I am living with for the next three months yesterday. I am staying with Doña Marta y su familia. I am sharing a room with my Nica sister Raquel, and there are two other sisters who are older and don´t live there (as far as i can tell after one night!) Lynette, one of the older sisters has two children Nievel and Alicia who are 10 and 2 respectively! For being 2 Alicia talks a lot, but I can´t understand what she says because shes still in that mumbling, half word stage, and thats hard enough to understand in English!! But the family is so nice, and has been doing everything they can to make me feel comfortable. Martin is our driver, (and Holly´s dad) and he has this new huge bus that fits 21 people, and its really awesome to ride around and be able to see the city from the windows. Yesterday we took a small bus tour through the city and saw the new and old Cathedrals. (The old one hasn´t been used since the earthquake of ´72, but its still stands, and its really weird to think that it hasn´t been used in so long.) We saw Lake Managua, which is very brown, like the water in the Chesapeake. We also saw a lot of the statues and monuments, like one of Sandino, and the tomb of Carlos Fonseca. Last night there was a huge welome party (at my house!) and all of the families came and te Xavier students got to introduce their family to the group. For me it was a little hard, because a lot of my family had come over to the house right before/during the party, so I didn´t know all of them. But its ok, they were trying to help me as I went. This morning we visited Mascota which is the only public all children´s hospital in the country. Two of us are going to be volunteering there. This afternoon we are going to visit Batahola Cultural Center, which is another service site that two of us will be attending. We are going to visit the rest of them throughout the week. Its so incredibly beautiful here! Its hot, but there seems to be a constant breeze right now, so its really really nice. There are Palm trees and all kinds of vegetation all over the place. And we´ve already eaten so much fresh fruit, its amazing! The language barrier is a little difficult, and I find myself wishing that I had spent many more hours studying when I was taking Spanish. But it can only get better, and I am looking forward to that!! Anyways, adios y hasta luego! <3

January 29th, 2007

Adios Muchachos!!

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  Today it is finally time to go!! Our group will be leaving St. Marks in about an hour. We have a 2:30 flight to Houston, and then a flight from there to Managua. I should be arriving in Managua around 9pm tonight (Nica time, which is two hours behind us!). Last night the reception and mass where amazing. Thank you so much to everyone who came, I really loved getting to see you one more time. I lost my keys last night so I had to unpack and repack for about the fourth time. But I have them now, so I can relax. Its hard to believe that I will be leaving later for three months, but I am so excited to get started! I am going to miss you all so much! Have a fabulous semester, and I'll see you all in April when I return! <3

January 20th, 2007

St. Mark's

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            I'll be leaving for Nicaragua in a little more than a week!! Right now our group is staying in the rectory of St. Mark's Church really close to school. We have begun taking our classes, preparing for Nicaragua and asking the harder questions. We are taking Service Learning and Central American History with the professor coming with us all three months, Dr. O'Hara. Currently we are taking Liberation Theology with Dr. Mike Gable, but while in Nicaragua, we will be taught by Father Mulligan. Similarly, our Spanish and NIcaraguan Culture class are being taught by Dr. Hodgson while we are in the states, but by other teachers in Nicaragua. While being at Xavier without really being on campus is a weird experience, I am really enjoying my time here at St. Mark's. Since my whole group is living together, we are quickly bonding and learning so much about each other and NIcaragua. I am so excited to see where this trip takes all of us!

December 29th, 2006

Nicaragua in a Month!

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           So I'll be leaving for Nicaragua in one month!! We leave Jan. 29th and come back on April 26th! They say it takes about three weeks to receive mail, and even longer to recieve packages, but if you want to send me something (which would be amazing!!!!) my address is:
Kaitlyn Kramer
Apdo LM-161
Managua, Nicaragua
Central America
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