Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Training, the first 6 weeks

I am in country, training my heart out.

My experiences thus far in Nicaragua have stirred up a myriad of emotions. The cultural adaptation experience is demanding, interesting, motivating, and sometimes overwhelming. Similar to a semester of full time university studies, my fellow trainees and I are engulfed in a montรณn of readings, presentations, and practical technical sessions. Unlike university life, many of us return home at night to a bowl of delicious rice and beans (gallo pinto) and a bucket bath. The sudden influx of new customs, social observations, and constant processing of a foreign language can quickly wear a person out.

Extracting myself from my lifestyle and planting myself in a development program in Central America means observing endless new social factors and realizing how much I have previously taken for granted. Things such as clean water, waste management, and emissions testing for vehicles...there are too many new observations to even begin a list on this blog.

The Peace Corps development approach is inspiring. International development is a lengthy process with many factors that can impede projects. The Peace Corps approach is to work with people who want assistance, find out what needs they have, find out what resources they have, and work TOGETHER to develop projects. In the end, the people involved should be trained and able to continue their projects without the presence of the Peace Corps volunteer. The inidividuals and communities hopefully feel a sense of ownership that can sustain long term, positive change. This is called capacity building!
I am very excited with my job here becuase I feel that I will have an active role in sustainable development. I feel very content because my nutrition and food science knowledge compliments my assignment goals. Some of my top priorities for my volunteer service include nutrition education, diet and garden diversification, environmental health projects, bio digestors (reducing firewood consumption by fermenting animal waste to produce natural cooking gas!)...But, ultimately my projects will be based on my community´s needs and the wishes of the local people! In Nicaragua, one must not enter a project with too many expectations...flexibility and patience are key.
I am enjoying learning how to do some farming. I am getting to see endless tropical plants that produce common (and not so common) fruits consumed in the States. My training team and I are working on a school garden, a product commercialization project with local youth, and we are all focusing on reusability! Creative use of resources--such as plastic soda bottles--is always fun to think about. Other training concepts include community banks to encourage saving and access to credit, as well as community health education. Project opportunities in agriculture are abundant!


  1. Hey Mike! It's good to hear you're doing well. Take care of yourself :)