Va Pue Magazine

Peace Corps Nicaragua stories of service.

Welcome. We are VaPué.

Welcome to VaPué – your hub for everything and anything that is Peace Corps Nicaragua. Explore, connect, listen, support, and submit to your heart’s content. You know you want to.

Featured post

Entrance Interview: Bolajoko Somade, EEP 69


Bolajoko Somade (B)



Where are you from?

I am from Maryland. I live in Beltsville, which is about 20 minutes north of Washington, DC.



What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

I worked as a finance associate for a small cooking stove company in India.

What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge?

By nature, I am an introvert. As an EEP volunteer I will have to play a role of an extrovert. The challenge is fighting nature to achieve the goals of the EEP program. Secondly, moving to a new community will require me to cultivate new relationships. This period of transition will be hard for me and make me miss home until those deep connections are formed.

Funny anecdotes from training?  

For practicum week, my group went out for breakfast one morning. After everyone had already ordered their meals, I requested tea. I proceeded to ask the waiter what types of tea they had and he said “only lemon”. Although I had green tea (hot) in mind I settled for what was available. After 15 minutes, the waiter returned with a Hi-C juice box labeled “Té de lemon.” My training mates didn’t relent joking about the incident and I am reminded of the importance that specificity holds when communicating in Spanish.

Biggest Spanish mistake?

My biggest shortcoming in learning Spanish is grammar. Shocker. I often use the “Tu” form when conjugating when I actually mean to refer to myself. For example I was on a crowded bus on my way to my training town Niquinohomo and I decided to exit out of the back because it was closest to me. I told the gentlemen hanging out of the door of my intention as the bus approached my stop I stated confidently “¿Va a salir?”. The gentlemen refused to move and were shaking their heads. The cobrador that I had ask to let me know when we came across my stop spoke up for clarification purposes and the men allowed me to exit. I almost missed my stop because I was asking the men if they were getting out, instead of saying I wanted to leave!

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to excite teachers and students about the topic of entrepreneurship. I want to share a different story of Americans from my lens. I hope to form deep relationships with my counterparts and people in my community. I would like to coach a volleyball and/or basketball team within my community.

What is something you have done in Nicaragua that you never thought you would do?

Swimming in a volcanic lake at the Laguna de Apoyo!

First impressions of Nicaragua?

Managua was hot but everyone was very friendly. I generally feel like the people of Nicaragua are very amiable.

What surprised you most about Nicaragua?

In my training town, seemingly every family has a business of some sort. One of the goals of the EEP program is to get students and business owners to think about innovation in business but many Nicaraguans already hold the entrepreneurial mindset. I am excited about being able to work with a community and build upon the mindset that many Nicaraguans already possess.

Would you consider dating a Nicaraguan?

Yes. Dating is not a priority of mine but I am open to organic relationships that may potentially form.

What do you miss most from home?

I miss my family and the availability of a diverse array of food.

Favorite Nica food so far?

Chicharron, Gallo Pinto and Jocotes!

Entrance Interview: Kali Pauling, HE 69


Kali (Kay-Lee) Pauling



Where are you from?

Never really sure how best to answer this question… St. Louis, Colorado, Oregon (take your pick)


International Studies

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

I did two terms of AmeriCorps service for a college access program, working with low-income high school students in Portland OR.

What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge?

Chagas, just kidding. Probably Spanish, but every day it gets easier and easier.

Funny anecdotes from training?

During our technical training on creating materials, we were given coloring sheets to work on. I was coloring away and completely oblivious that my picture was one of the condom steps until Dina pointed that out… all I can say is that I choose all the wrong colors and in general had a lot to learn about condoms during training.

Biggest Spanish mistake?

Realistically verb tenses, but funniest “mistake” was using vos with my host sister’s boyfriend… not really sure why my host mom thought it was hilarious, but I just went with it.

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I am hoping to make amazing connections with people!

What is something you have done in Nicaragua that you never thought you would do?

Give an HIV Charla at a skate park, on the actual skate platform surrounded by young men, and absolutely love that non-formal education setting.

First impressions of Nicaragua?

Breathtakingly beautiful, I can’t wait to explore all that Nicaragua has to offer.

What surprised you most about Nicaragua?

How warm and welcoming everyone has been: PCS, PCV, PCT, and especially all the locals in Santa Teresa.

Would you consider dating a Nicaraguan?

Well I certainly shouldn’t since I’m serving with my partner

What do you miss most from home?

Dark chocolate and going to great happy hour spots with friends

Favorite Nica food so far?

If melon fresco counts as a food, definitely that. But if not, sopa de frijoles con salsa picante.

8 reasons Millennials make great Peace Corps Volunteers

Conor / Nica 64 / TEFL

“Millennials – that tech-savvy, selfie-taking, debt-ridden cohort born between 1980 and the mid-2000s – are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Welcome.

Despite all the negative things that have been said about us – we’re narcissistic, spoiled and entitled – a consensus is now growing that recognizes us as a hard-working generation that wants to make a positive social impact” (read more)

Tales from the TEFL Certificate Program: “We Are Learning Together”

Andrew and Emily / Nica 64 / TEFL

“So what did you think about our last class?”

“It was OK. I really liked the Walk-to-the-line activity, but I don’t know if they completely understand possessive adjectives.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Every time we gave an example with a possessive, they seemed to wait for one student to move, and then they followed. I think they were just mimicking him.”

“Good observation. What can we do about that? Do you want to re-teach the material, or try a different assessment to see where individual students are?”

I would like to do a review of the material. But how?”

“Well, let’s look for some ideas here in the TEFL Manual. What do you think about this one?”

Almost every co-planning session we have with one of our counterparts begins with some variation of this conversation.  Looking back on the first half of our service, we recognize that it’s conversations like these that are the heart of the TEFL program in Nicaragua.

Nicaraguita, A Poem

Samantha / Peace Corps Stories

Oh Nicaragua, Nicaraguita
That girl at the bar said you have no culture

But I know
Culture is not something can see in colorful cloth or folk dances

But something you taste, like the dust that lines your mouth in April before the rains start
Like the ash baked into tortillas
And those small strawberries that come down from the mountain once a year

And culture is something you smell
Like the elote blackening in the street
The red and black paint drying on telephone poles
And the trash burning outside

It’s something you hear
Like the cars with the speakers tied on top, announcing a funeral
The sound of a plump mango falling from the tree
And every adios as you walk by

It’s something you feel
Like the warm hand of a stranger, inviting you in
The bumps on the road, as you pass by the mountains
And the ache of your heart, once you’ve left

Peace Corps held a poetry contest in 2015 that received more than 800 submissions from Volunteers in the field and returned Volunteers. Samantha Austin’s poem received the runner-up prize in the returned Peace Corps Volunteer Category. Austin was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua from 2010-12.

*Originally published on

Two is Twice as Tuani

Emily and Andrew / Nica 64 / TEFL

“Like any applicant and wannabe Peace Corps Volunteer, hours were spent scouring the Internet and talking with any RPCV to gather information and get a glimpse into what was to come. We were looking for something a little different though: information about serving as a couple.” (read more)

What it’s Like to Serve as a Queer Volunteer

Char / Nica 64 / TEFL

“I don’t want to go to Nicaragua,” I grumbled to my mom as I sat in the passenger’s seat, wrinkling my nose. She had just asked me if I was excited about my new Peace Corps assignment. I still wasn’t sure if I would actually go, but I said yes, for the moment.” (read more)

Instagram: Sweet Tamale Day

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: Repost @haleyyyjules: “Sweet Tamale day! #tamale #hostfamily #nicaragua #peacecorpsnicaragua”

Entrance Interview: Thomas, TEFL 68

Who are you?

Thomas Bagby Orange… (*dramatic pause*) Jr.

What do you like to go by?

Thomas, Tom, TO, Orange and/or any variation.

Where do you call home?

Glen Allen, VA

Why did you join the Peace Corps? Continue reading “Entrance Interview: Thomas, TEFL 68”

Instagram: Teacher Life

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: Repost @snrtasolecita: “Teacher Adrian with 11th graders today in Chin City. 🙌 #peacecorpsnicaragua” #peacecorps #teacherlife #tefl

Entrance Interview: Jasmine, ENV 68

Who are you?

Jasmine Williams

What do you like to go by?

Fachenta Frankie! Haha, just kidding. Call me Jasmine!

Where do you call home?

Peace up, A town down! (And for those of you who suffered a childhood without the musical stylings of Usher and Lil Jon, I’m from Atlanta.)

Why did you join the Peace Corps?

I joined the Peace Corps for many reasons but I think that they can all be summed up into the fact that I just want to be a better person. I wanted to learn more about this world, the environment, how to grow my own food, speak Spanish and how to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of others. My aunt and uncle met in the Peace Corps while serving in Ecuador in the 90s. They’ve always been an inspiration for me, because they’re incredibly interesting, well-traveled and full of amazing stories. I want to be just like them.

What is one thing you want to do while in Nicaragua?

Aside from my professional goals, I want to eat a meal in each departamento.

What is your perfect pizza?

This is a hard one, because I’m torn between two pizzas from the same pizzeria. If you’re ever in New York, do yourself a favor and visit Artichoke Pizza. The spinach and artichoke is creamy and delicious without being too overwhelmingly rich. The crab pizza is seasoned with Cajun spices, breadcrumbs and succulent pieces of actual crab meat. I typically order a slice of both, because a.) I’m grown; b.) I love to eat; and c.) I’m indecisive as hellllll.

Who is a character from a TV show or a book that you’ve always resonated with?

Jess from “New Girl”, because she’s a teacher who’s slightly awkward, has a definitive aesthetic and sings show tunes. Side bar: Another Peace Corps goal of mine is to play “True American” with my compañeros during a holiday. It’s a game that was created on the show “New Girl” and I’ve always wanted to play it!

Have you ever danced in the rain? If not, HOP TO IT!

Ummm, absolutely! But I need to do it again soon! The conditions are perfect.

Do you believe in pinky promises?

Yes, but they’re only valid if both parties simultaneously kiss the swirl of their hands while the pinkies are locked.

Are you an PCV in Nica 68 (or an older group) but haven’t yet responded to the Entrance Interview Qs? Never fear, the questions are here.

Instagram: Active Volcano

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: #RPCV repost @jlwayy: “Today I received an email with the subject ‘Avoid active volcanos at this moment’ ”
#peacecorps #peacecorpsnicaragua #sancristobal #chinandega #blanford

Entrance Interview: Andrea, TEFL 68

Who are you?

Andrea René Franke

What do you like to go by?

Andrea (pronounced the Spanish way!)

Where do you call home?

Portland, Oregon is where I was born and spent the first 23 years of my life. However, a RPCV from The Gambia once told me that home is something that is internal and once you have it you can be at home no matter where you are in the world. I would say that is a meta of mine.

Why did you join the Peace Corps? Continue reading “Entrance Interview: Andrea, TEFL 68”

Instagram: Slice of Campo

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: #repost “Dirt roads, barbed wire fences, and a little ol’ volcano pretty much sum up my slice of campo. #peacecorpsnicaragua #peacecorps”

Entrance Interview: Jared ENV 68

Who are you?

Jared Ginsburg

What do you like to go by?

Jared Ginsburg

Where do you call home?

I am from Kinnelon, New Jersey

Why did you join the Peace Corps? Continue reading “Entrance Interview: Jared ENV 68”

17 Smiles to Start Your Day…or Year

Peace Corps Stories

Sometimes all it takes is one smile to make a Volunteer feel right at home.  (read more)

Instagram: Roaming Cattle

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: #repost @mario_munoz3: “Dirt roads, roaming cattle, overlooked by an active smoking volcano-the Momotombo. For the last 5 days, I immersed myself in a rural pueblo in Leon where current Peace Corps Volunteer @lilgigglz is working with a welcoming ranching and agriculture community of about 600 people. Living in an inviting and friendly community at an entirely different pace of life was an eye-opening experience 👣🐮 #peacecorpsnicaragua #life #culture #travel #discovernicaragua”

Entrance Interview: Neal, ENV 68

Who are you?

My name is Neal.

What do you like to go by?

Neal. I’d say I’m just that boring, but I think it is a pretty nifty name.

Where do you call home?

I’m from the Columbia river gorge, on the Washington side. My house is the evergreen trees, my carpet is the moss on the forest floor, and my window is the rain.

Why did you join the Peace Corps?
 Continue reading “Entrance Interview: Neal, ENV 68”

How I Joined Team Azul in the League of Retirees, Veterans, and Chubbies

Conor / Nica 64 / TEFL

Michaela and I arrived in Nueva Guinea just as the school semester was coming to an end, which left us ample free time our first few months in site. As a result, we made it a priority to meet as many people as possible by getting out and about.

We started by frequenting a local gym, which is where I met Omar. Every night at 6pm, Omar arrived with a laptop computer and a black trash bag with a hole at the bottom. He pulled his head through the hole and wore the bag like a pancho. Then he opened his laptop and turned on the workout program “Insanity.” For 35 minutes, he was the Nicaraguan Sean-T, calling out floor sprints and power jacks in Spanish to a group of 10 to 15 people.

After a while, I asked Omar if he knew how I could join a soccer team. He said he played for a local men’s league and invited me to meet him the following Tuesday night for meeting with some of the organizers. He instructed me to say I had never, ever, played soccer and just wanted to learn. Continue reading “How I Joined Team Azul in the League of Retirees, Veterans, and Chubbies”

Instagram: Volcán Masaya

via @peacecorpsnicaragua: #repost @robinadairswan: “Staring into the heart of a volcano, watching the lava ebb and flow. #volcanmasaya” #peacecorpsnicaragua #landoflakesandvolcanoes

Blog at

Up ↑