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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.

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Raíces: Va Pue Magazine October 2017

Here it is, hot off the (digital) press: The latest issue of Va Pue! The theme for October was Raíces. Click here to check it out. If you are interested in submitting art, articles, or photos for future issues, email pcvapue@gmail.com or submit here.

Va Pue Cover - October 2017
Cover art by PCV Carlin O’Brien

13 Types of Houses Volunteers Call Home Sweet Home

Peace Corps Stories

“In Mongolia, you might live in a ger; in Swaziland, it could be a rondavel. Just as each Volunteer experience is different, so is each house.” (read more)

11 Sunrises Worth Waking Up For

Peace Corps Stories

“Whether you’re a Volunteer in Costa Rica or Cameroon, Jamaica or Georgia, Tonga or Togo, there is one constant of Peace Corps service: you’re going to see some pretty awesome sunrises.” (read see more)

Happy 2 Years Nica 66

Nica 66

Happy Anniversary Nica 66.  Two years in, three months to go.

6 reasons why Peace Corps blogging is meaningful work

Emily / Nica 64 / TEFL

“As countries around the world seek to advance and connect, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) of the 21st century have access to technology than their predecessors never dreamed of.

But with the power of access comes great responsibility; the Peace Corps blog was born. Volunteers often start blogging strong. Their excitement fuels updates, committing cultural faux pas provide easy and hilarious content, and everything seems so new… for a while.

Then an incredible transition happens. Through integration, gaining cultural understanding and the simple passing of time, a PCV’s host country becomes a little more like home. Volunteers might say later that this is when they really started to feel like they hit their stride, but it is also often where their blogging faded away. It doesn’t have to be though.” (read more)

Entrance Interview: Nico Stubler, EEP 69

Name:

Nico Stubler

Sector:

EEP

Where are you from?

Colonized Ute Territory, in what is now called Grand Junction, Colorado

Major:

International Political Economy

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

I was completing my Undergrad degree at the University of Denver, and organizing within the Climate Justice movement with a number of different groups.

What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge?

Finding a balance between maintaining my strongly held ethical and spiritual values while effectively integrating into my community (It was a challenge I have had in the United States as well).

Biggest Spanish mistake?

Using “me gusta” when describing other aspirantes and people I have met with my host family – for a while they all thought I had a lot of crushes!!

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to sincerely benefit the lives of individuals in my community. I hope to shift perspectives regarding the United States and its citizenry, and challenge some of the common norms often attributed to the United States.

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

I have become markedly more passionate about my values surrounding animal liberation.

First impressions of Nicaragua? I have been astounded by the hospitality and openness with which I have been received – it has surpassed all of my expectations.

What surprised you most about Nicaragua?

It has been a lot drier than I anticipated (though I realize that these months and the region in which I have been living have perhaps not been representative).

Would you consider dating a Nicaraguan?

Yes, absolutely, if I were to find a Nicaraguan who shares my beliefs and passions.

What do you miss most from home?

Home cooking, especially salads, brown rice, and lentils.

Favorite Nica food so far?

Malanga, Quiquisque, and Yucca in soup. Yum!

7 ways you can engage with the world through Peace Corps

Conor / Nica 64 / TEFL

“The most obvious way to engage with the world through Peace Corps is to serve as a Volunteer.

It’s an opportunity to delve deeper into a foreign culture than you would be able to otherwise, even as a budget-conscious traveler, an international NGO worker or a foreign service officer. Volunteers go to some of the furthest corners of the globe to serve their country.

But even if you aren’t ready to spend 27 months in a foreign country where you may or may not have access to running water, much less wireless Internet, there are still lots of ways to help the overall objectives of the Peace Corps by staying informed, donating to projects helping more girls get an education or leading a presentation in your local community.” (read more)

Entrance Interview: Angelica Gehlich, HE 69

Name:

Angelica Gehlich

Sector:

Health

Where are you from?

Virginia

Major:

International Studies and Anthropology

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

Working and traveling with non-profits in Richmond, Virginia and in Africa in the fields of youth and sexual reproductive health and working as a Career Coach at Apex Systems, Inc.

What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge?

Working completely in Spanish

Funny anecdotes from training?

If a bull/cow is coming at you, don’t look at it in the eyes or run away- stay calm and slowly step away.

Biggest Spanish mistake?

Using “mierda” instead of “merienda” – multiple times

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope that I am able to make a few more people decide to use condoms and learn more about consent. I hope that more people are empowered with themselves and empower others.

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

Eat the brains of a fish.

First impressions of Nicaragua?

Beautiful and warm

What surprised you most about Nicaragua?

That there are no addresses or street names

Would you consider dating a Nicaraguan?

Yes!

What do you miss most from home?

My family and friends and my cat

Favorite Nica food so far?

Sopa de Pescado

Entrance Interview: Bolajoko Somade, EEP 69

Name:

Bolajoko Somade (B)

Sector:

EEP

Where are you from?

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

Major:

Accounting

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

Name:

Kali (Kay-Lee) Pauling

Sector:

Salud!

Where are you from?

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

Major:

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 http://www.peacecorps.gov

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”

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