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Va Pue Magazine

Peace Corps Nicaragua stories of service.

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Entrance Interview: Alice Kinney, TEFL 70

Name:

Hey! I’m Alice Kinney in Diriamba, Carazo.

Where do you call home?

Southwest Michigan! I grew up in Hastings and went to school in Kalamazoo.

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

I was finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education of Spanish and English at Western Michigan University. I was also a nanny for a family with two little girls (love them)!

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

Honestly, I think I packed mostly normal stuff but the most useful item has been my Swiss Army knife. I’ve had this baby since I has in high school and it has served me well. Whether you need to open a bottle (of something), sharpen a pencil, remove a sliver, or cut through cardboard/plastic this little guy has got your back!

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

Hot but beautiful. And I couldn’t believe how kind and open the people were. This is something I am still trying to understand but the Nicaraguans that I have shared my time with have been nothing but patient with me. My host families are a huge part of my service and I am always surprised how much they care about me and my well being.

Funny anecdote from training/service so far?

I was invited to a “traditional dance class” to practice Salsa, Bacahta, and Merengue by my neighbor. I went thinking “Oh, how awesome! I can work on fine-tuning my dancing.” But when I arrived it turned out to be a Zoomba training class that was focused on the movement of the hips and butt. I’ll let you imagine my face when I discovered this and was positioned in the front row of a full-on twerk shop. Anyways, the first class was a bit of a shock but needless to say I returned a number of times to get my sweat on and bond with my neighbor.

Best Spanish mistake?

Hmmmm… Well this actually took place in Spain during study abroad. I was planning to go see the movie “Planet of the Apes” with a group of friends. I told my host mom a few days ahead of time and she seemed really confused but I just assumed she had never heard of the movie. I talked about it again the next day and I still received a blank stare. Finally on the day of the movie I told her for the third time that I was leaving to see the movie “La Planeta de los Apios” and she said okay. It wasn’t until I sat down in the movie theater that I realized the movie was called “La Planeta de los Simios” and I quick found out that apio = celery.

Favorite Nica food?

Easy. Empanadas de Maduro con pico de gallo y crema

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to positively develop myself as a human being. I also hope to serve as a positive example for the kids in my community and be a bridge for them to reach their potential.

What do you miss most from home?

Okay, where my Michiganders at?? I would pay big bucks for a Muldoone’s Vegetarian Pasty from Munising, Michigan. Google it.

Entrance Interview: Sophie Parker, ENV 70

Name:

Sophie Parker

Where do you call home?

Palo Alto, California

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

Studying sociology and spanish at Elon University, North Carolina.

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

A LOT of trader joe snacks.

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

How incredibly kind the people are and how safe I feel in the country.

Funny anecdote from training/service so far?

I won a swimming competition in my site and was then interviewed about it for channel 4.

Best Spanish mistake?

The difference between calcones (underware) y calcetines (socks).

Favorite Nica food?

Tajados and fresco de cacao.

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to make great relationships with people in my site. I hope to leave the mark on my community as an example of someone from the United States who cares about other people’s cultures and is accepting.

What do you miss most from home?

My family and my puppy dog Bella.

 

Entrance Interview: Brijesh Kishan, EEP 71

Name:

Brijesh P. Kishan

Where do you call home?

Black Mountain, North Carolina

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

Before joining the Peace Corps, I assisted with political campaigns in North and South Carolina; having graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During 2017, I began my service with the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, but unfortunately returned home due to a myriad of reasons resulting in the termination of the program country-wide. Now, I’m bringing my talents to Nicaragua and couldn’t be more happier with my second opportunity to serve this beautiful country and amazing people!

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

Tiger Sauce, you either know about it, or you don’t; and if you don’t come find me and I’ll tell you about it!

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

I’ve been thinking how lucky I am; to have a family so loving that I truly reciprocate the feeling; to have the privilege to aid in a country so beautiful I can’t describe it; and to learn from a people so full of love, laughter, and openness that I’ll never forget it. How fast I’ve accepted Nicaragua as home, that’s what has surprised me the most.

Funny anecdote from training/service so far?

My inability to fit inside a Microbus; we need special microbuses for 6ft tall+ individuals!

Best Spanish mistake?

That one time I went into the local school for the first time, wanting to invite students to join our Entrepreneurship group. Trying to excite the chavallos, I said “who wants to make a lot of money with your ideas in the future?!” That was followed by blank stares and zero enthusiasm. Little did I know, I was saying “we want to make a lot of money with your ideas in the future!” No wonder kids didn’t show up in the first couple of meetings!

Favorite Nica food?

Tostones or Tajadas con Pica

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to change just one life for the better, and strike that piece humanity that is common within us all; even if that one life is my own.

What do you miss most from home?

My family, the backbone and support to my strength.

Entrance Interview: Rebeccah Schechter, ENV 70

Name:

Rebeccah Schechter

Where do you call home?

Stamford, Connecticut

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

Full-time student and environmental activist!

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

I brought a Stainless Steel reusable razor from the 1930’s, it comes in a cool case where you can sharpen the same blade over and over again (Sustainability!)

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

A country where making friends is easy, the nature is abundant, and the heat is no joke.

Best Spanish mistake?

To say I am going to catch the bus, I would normally say, “Voy a coger el bus.” Apparently coger in this country has a sexual connotation to it… so people’s response is usually, “Todo el bus?!?” I now use agarrar… and people don’t look at me weird anymore.

Favorite Nica food?

Gallo Pinto with Maduro!

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to inspire young people to treat the earth like they would treat their mother.

What do you miss most from home?

All the Vegan Junk food and my friends and family

 

Acoso Callejero: ¡Basta Ya!

To close a month that has been especially full of inspiring projects and campaigns to fight gender-based violence here in Nicaragua, we’d like to share this video created by the Gender and Development Committee of Peace Corps Nicaragua.

This video is a tool that can be used to facilitate discussions with community members about the negative effects that “piropos” or street harassment have on an individual and societal level.

See what else the PCVs of GAD have been up to.

Entrance Interview: Henry Hartzler, ENV 70

Name:

Henry Hartzler

Where do you call home?

Byron, MN

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

Just finished student teaching and then was living in the North Woods as a kayaking and climbing guide

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

A hanging closet from college — turned out to be the most useful thing I brought!

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

It’s much hotter than Minnesota! Never thought that I would find climbing here though.

Funny anecdote from training/service so far?

When we went to La Boquita at the end of training, I came back so burnt that I was literally the same shade of red as the wall across from Britton’s house. Even applying aloe hurt!

Best Spanish mistake?

Accidentally asking for a coño of ice cream instead of a cono will make your server turn bright red.

Favorite Nica food?

Guiso de pipían – specifically made by Doña Lígia!

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope that the schools that I work implement school-wide and classroom-wide interventions that support learning of the whole child.

What do you miss most from home?

While I am eternally grateful that there are bolted climbing routes in Matagalpa, I miss the long, perfect granite lines of Yosemite and the endless number of overhanging walls at the Red.

 

Entrance Interview: Sam Gogan, TEFL 70

Name:

Sam Gogan

Where do you call home?

Maryland. Silver Spring area

What were you doing before you joined Peace Corps?

I was finishing my Master of Public Policy degree at University of Maryland

Weirdest/most specific/interesting item you brought to country with you?

Skateboard

First impressions of Nicaragua? What surprised you most?

I was surprised by my first “rainy season” experience.

Funny anecdote from training/service so far?

Learned this dicho from my host mom during training: “Amor de lejos, amor de pendejos.”

Best Spanish mistake?

I can’t say comb that well

Favorite Nica food?

#gallopinto

What do you hope to accomplish in your service?

I hope to help my counterparts with their English speaking and teaching skills. When I leave, I want them to be better off compared to when I arrived.

What do you miss most from home?

My family, S.O., friends, and independence.

2016 Storytelling Contest: Katherine Wzorek, RPCV Nicaragua

Katherine Wzorek, who served as a Volunteer in Nicaragua, shares her Peace Corps story, “Sisters.” Watch it here.

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

Adventure Time

Mary Kerr / TEFL 66 / Rio San Juan

I joined Peace Corps for the adventure. I can honestly say there is no lack of adventure in my life currently. I never know what kind of shenanigans I’m going to get myself into when I walk through the front gate. Sometimes I don’t even have to leave the house. This week was no exception. Continue reading “Adventure Time”

Why Peace Corps LGBTQ Safe Zone trainings are so important

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.

Check out why we need LGBTQ Safe Zone trainings on my 4th Peace Corps Passport blog post!

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