STAR / Peace Corps Nicaragua
STAR is a group of LGBTQ and allied Peace Corps volunteers who support one another, train staff on LGBTQ issues, and collaborate with Nicaraguan communities.
1. Pride Managua
Kim / Nica 64 / TEFL
Before coming to Nicaragua to serve in the Peace Corps, I imagined that it would be similar to my study abroad experience in Ecuador: teaching English, speaking Spanish and indubitably changing lives. But I did not expect that the life that would change the most was my own. (read more on peacecorps.gov)
Traci / Nica 64 / TEFL
A while ago my friends Emily and Andrew Nilsen invited me to a Noche de Ruben Dario (Ruben Dario Night). I accepted the invitation with the thought that it’d be a night of poetry, as Ruben Dario is a famous poet from Nicaragua. Once I arrived at the event with Emily and Andrew I knew it couldn’t just be a poetry night because of the turnout. The line went down the block and once everyone entered the school, it was completely full. We soon came to realize that it was a cultural night filled with dances, costumes, and poetry.
So far in Nicaragua when I had attended a cultural night, I had seen performances that included people talking on the stage, people stopping in the middle of the dance to laugh, or simply people leaving the stage when they forget the dance. I was shocked, however, because this event was nothing of the sort. All of the dancers had costumes, they smiled while they danced, they didn’t talk or laugh, and they had a professional composure. I immediately was drawn in and felt an ache for art and performance. It reminded all of of the times I have performed on a stage. The lights that block out the faces in the audience, the loud music, your heart racing right before you enter the stage, the beautiful and colorful outfits, and the culmination of all of your hard work.
Right then and there I knew I would need to put something together in my own town. Continue reading “Dancing Queens”
via @peacecorpsnicaragua: On a trip to El Castillo, Nicaragua (population: 1,500), which is a seven-hour bus ride and surreal three-hour boat ride from Managua, I didn’t expect to find any queers. I expected to see a remote part of the country, and tour the Spanish Castle built centuries ago to guard the area from pirates.
I stumbled upon an unexpected treasure, though: @obregonnicky, the dazzling, kind, and vivacious owner of Border’s Café. He cooks the best vegetable curry in the country and makes deliciously creamy mango milkshakes. He also happens to be openly gay, and has survived multiple assaults because of it.
Posted originally on the Peace Corps Passport official blog by Char Stoever.
As the coordinator of the Sexuality Training Awareness and Response (STAR) Peace Corps Volunteer committee in Nicaragua, I train and support staff and Volunteers on LGBTQ issues. STAR formed in 2014 because Peace Corps Nicaragua was slated to start hosting same-sex couples. In light of this, LGBTQ Volunteers in-country recognized the need for their identities to be acknowledged and better supported.
In 2015, STAR led four LGBTQ Safe Zone trainings. Our first training was nerve-wracking, yet rewarding. During these trainings, we realized there was a great need for staff to learn about the differences between “sex” and “gender” before moving on to more complex topics of “gender expression” and “sexual orientation.” We trained the office staff, both Nicaraguan and American, as well as our hotel and hostel staff. Last but not least, we trained several of the taxi cab drivers who make sure we travel through Managua safely.
Tara Seibel/ Nica 66/ ENV
My neighbor in the United States was a vibrant, strong 6 year old with big glasses and a black and white puppy – Rainy. Every day after school, she’d visit. Sometimes her visits were to share a new song she learned or teach me how to string a fishing pole. When summer storms would roll into Wanblee (a small town on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and home to the initiation of the American Indian Movement) she would run to my garage, grab our Pow Wow chairs, and we would sit. We would watch as the Thunder Beings made their way to the Badlands, bringing rain and an epic storm across the sky – a storm we could see coming from 40 miles west. Watching the storms and admiring the grand nature of all that surrounded us, Rainy would tell me stories about the Star Boy and the White Buffalo Calf Woman. She shared stories that rested close to her heart. She told stories that were passed down to her from her mom and dad and from all of her ancestors that, too, welcomed the Thunder Beings through their history on the land in (what is now) South Dakota. Rainy is Oglala Lakota Sioux, a descendant of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Her whole self is strengthened and enhanced by the stories, the people and the traditions that surround her. Continue reading “You Are My Other Me”
Eric Insler / Nica 63 / SBD
Coming from the United States, we sometimes convince ourselves that our country and Europe are some of the most socially progressive countries in the world, and most other countries are “religious and conservative.”
However, as I spend more and more time in Nicaragua, I have come to realize that my original suppositions were unfounded, and there are many liberal aspects of Nicaraguan society and culture.
One of these areas is LGBTQ awareness, acceptance, and rights. Continue reading “STAR Update – Feb 2016”