There are two more school libraries in Nicaraguan villages thanks to the latest service trip there led by CA faculty members George Larivee and Tonhu Hoang. Six Concord Academy students opted to join the two teachers and spend a few weeks of their summer roughing it in the mountains of northern Nicaragua to set up the libraries and to teach science to elementary school children in five villages.
The original plan to spend a week working with the children of one village was abandoned after the bridge to that village was washed away one night following a torrential downpour. The travelers were sorely disappointed at losing the opportunity to experience village life firsthand and to make friends with the village children, but things turned out well just the same. After consulting with a few local teachers, the group learned of other villages not too far from their home base of Esteli where they would be able to teach science to the children in the village schools.
The group’s arrival the following day at the tiny school in the community of El Regadio was a complete surprise to the two teachers at the school, who nonetheless welcomed the CA group with the hospitality for which Nicaraguan villagers are well known. The CA students quickly divided the entire student body of the school, which amounted to no more than a dozen children, into two groups for a series of fun, hands-on science lessons. The lessons consisted of demonstrations of basic scientific equipment, including magnifying glasses, prisms, microscopes, telescopes, magnets, compasses, tuning forks, and basic circuits. The Nicaraguan children had likely never seen such things previously, and almost certainly had never had a chance to hold and play with them. It was an enjoyable experience for everyone, and as the equipment was left with the teachers at the school, one might imagine that the children have had more opportunities to investigate since then.
Teaching science in Spanish to young children gave the CA students a healthy challenge, considering that they had no prior teaching experience on which to draw. The two teachers who led the trip were impressed at how quickly the CA students were able to establish a rapport with the Nicaraguan children and engage them in the lessons. Over the following days the young teachers had a chance to refine their skills with each visit to a new village and a new set of students, some of them considerably more numerous than at the first school.
This service trip was the third in a continuing series of trips to Nicaragua to build libraries in village schools and to promote cultural exchange. Much of the financing of this year’s libraries came from individual donors, as well as a generous gift from CA’s volleyball team, who sold T-shirts to raise money for the project. So far the project has set up nine libraries, and planning for the next service trip will be underway in the fall.
Click here to view more photos of the trip.