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Va Pue Magazine

Peace Corps Nicaragua stories of service.

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PCV Interviews

Words of wisdom from Volunteers themselves.

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!

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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.

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”

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.

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”

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”

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”

Entrance Interview: Jill, TEFL 68

Who are you?

That is a really good question, I’ll probably never answer right; but, let’s just go with Jill Camargo

What do you like to go by?

I like to go by houses and make up stories about the people who live there.

Where do you call home?

My home is where my husband is, and he’s in Nebraska, I hope.

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

Exit Interview: Robert, ENV 64

Name:

Robert F. Brown (formerly Maria)

Site and Sector:

San Nicolás, Estelí. ENV64

Project assignment:

Community-based Environmental Education

Project reality:

Elementary Science and OTV Teacher and Town Environmental Consultant Continue reading “Exit Interview: Robert, ENV 64”

Exit Interview, Amanda, ENV 64

Name:

Amanda Fisher

Site and Sector:

El Valle de La Laguna, Masaya. Environment 64

Project assignment:

Environmental Education Promoter

Project reality:

Primary school science teacher, garden and compost engineer, papelografo artista.

Did you have an apodo during service?

Amandita.

Most and/or least useful thing/experience brought into country:

My own sheets. Even brought 2 sets, super useful because Nica host family sheets were scratchy and elastic was always shot so never stayed on mattress. I usually got 9-12 hours of sleep in site every night so they were definitely put to good use!  Other most useful thing, EARPLUGS. Least useful: Watertight bag. Never used it and the one chance I could’ve used it (tour of Somoto Cannon, lots of swimming) I didn’t bring it with me!

What do you wish you had done here?

More sports related stuff in site.  It’s what I’m good at and what I love to do but I let the lack of materials and hilly terrain prevented me from getting something started. Wish I could’ve been a part of a committee, maybe would’ve had the chance to be a part of the camps and teach Nica kids the importance and values of being part of a team.

Most creative way you killed time in your site:

Working out with Shaun T videos, he saved me.

What books/podcasts/shows/movies did you get hooked on during your service that you would like to recommend to other volunteers?

Favorite podcast I discovered was The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson.

Most Nicaraguan habit you’ll take home with you:

Lip pointing and nose scrunching.

What will you miss six months from now?

My PC friends, host family, Laguna de Apoyo, Crossfit in Managua.

What will you not miss six months from now?

Having to use public transportation, latrina life, piropos from gross/disrespectful men in public.

How have you changed during your service?

I went from valuing my independence and free bird lifestyle to really longing for a husband and family of my own. “Settling down in Delaware” used to scare me but now I know I am ready to do just that. Living in a culture that truly values family definitely influenced and inspired this change.

Did you ever want to ET?

Every other day but my friends and family kept me going. I’m no quitter.

Big plans for your readjustment allowance?

Pay off credit card debt that I accrued while in PeaceCorps, car maintenance stuff, pretty new clothes 🙂

What’s next?

Coaching college field hockey, part time work as a teacher at an early learning center, find a husband and live happily ever after.

Final words of advice:

No matter how tough things may be… have faith in yourself and others, laugh A LOT, take care of your body and mind, spend time with the people who make you happy, and last but not least: work hard but play harder.

Exit Interview: Sam, ENV 64

Name:

Sam Connor

Site and Sector:

Env, Diriá

Project assignment:

First, co-teach and plan with primary school teachers.  Second, implement community environmental projects.

Project reality: Continue reading “Exit Interview: Sam, ENV 64”

Exit Interview: Amelia, ENV 64

Name:

Amelia Evans

Site and Sector:

San Lorenzo, Boaco. Environment

Project assignment: 

Co-plan and co-teach science with 4 teachers

Project reality: 

Providing free babysitting for a multitude of necias but wonderful neighborhood niñas. Continue reading “Exit Interview: Amelia, ENV 64”

Exit Interview: Lindsay, ENV 64

Name:

Lindsay Ellingson

Site and Sector:

Balgue, Ometepe. ENV64

Project assignment:

Environmental education

Project reality:

Just plain old education Continue reading “Exit Interview: Lindsay, ENV 64”

Nica 68 Entrance Interviews

Nica 68 Swore-in as official volunteers this morning, November 10, 2016.  Congratulations and welcome to the Peace Corps Nicaragua team!  In the coming weeks, we will share some of their initial thoughts and get to know them a bit here on the blog in the form of VaPué Entrance Interviews.


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: Continue reading “Nica 68 Entrance Interviews”

Exit Interview: Robin, TEFL 64

Name:

Robin Swanhuyser

Site and Sector:

Nindirí, Masaya. TEFL

Project assignment:

TEFL Teacher Trainer

Did you have an apodo during service?

Robin Hood.  Continue reading “Exit Interview: Robin, TEFL 64”

Exit Interview: Michelle, ENV 64

Name

Michelle Zaragoza

Site and Sector

Juigalpa, Chontales. Environment 64

Project assignment

Primary environmental educator

Project reality

Taking hours creating the perfect materials for classes that NEVER happen while eating WAY TOO many tajadas. Continue reading “Exit Interview: Michelle, ENV 64”

Exit Interview, Char, TEFL 64

Name:

Charleen Johnson Stoever.

Site and Sector:

Matagalpa, Matagalpa, TEFL

Project assignment: 

Co-plan and co-teach English with 3 Nicaraguan English teachers.

Project reality: 

Practicing how to pronounce “three” differently from “tree,” coming out to strangers and colleagues, and having meaningful discussions about race, class, sexual orientation, gender, mental health, and destigmatizing  these discussions. I also explained that I could be white and Mexican and that not all Americans are white, blonde, and with blue eyes.

I also led STAR’s LGBTQ Safe Zone Trainings for Peace Corps Nicaragua staff, taxi drivers, hotel staff, and host families. These trainings were incredibly rewarding.

I also used my social media skills to fundraise thousands of dollars for Camp Glow for Girls and blogged about the effects this amazing camp had on Nicaraguan girls, and I also reflected on what we could do better for the next camp. Camp Glow was my favorite week of my service.
Continue reading “Exit Interview, Char, TEFL 64”

Exit Interview: Jennifer, TEFL 64

Name:

Jennifer Awesome Rowley

Site:

Sébaco, Matagalpa

Sector:

TEFL

Project assignment:

To enhance the lesson planning and English instruction abilities of the counterparts assigned

Project reality:

Become friends with everyone in sight and maybe teach a few kids some English words Continue reading “Exit Interview: Jennifer, TEFL 64”

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