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Summer Success!

ummers at Enlace Project are the busiest time of the year! During a 10-week period from May to July, twenty-nine students participated in three different study abroad classes facilitated by Enlace Project. The students and staff worked towards a greater understanding of Nicaragua in a local and global context, and applied these lessons to their specific studies—while having a great time, of course! Groups also spent time traveling, visiting sites such as Los Altos de Ocotal, León, Granada, and Masaya.

With the arrival of the enthusiastic and animated Humanities II students, from the State University of New York at Geneseo, the busy months began. Led by long-time Enlace Project friend Wes Kennison and Dr. Kristina Hannam (a Biology professor who is also creating a sustainability course in Nicaragua for 2014), the students studied influential Western texts from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Participants connect the themes of these texts—from slave trade and colonialism, to the evolution of Catholic and Marxist ideology—to the historical and modern culture across Nicaragua. In the group of 16 students, Senior Topher Pike was sponsored by a Geneseo Student Ambassador grant which focused on increasing Enlace Project’s fundraising and sustainability efforts. Keep on the lookout for updates on Topher's work! Another student, Christian Perfas, created promotional materials for increased enrollment in the Humanities course. View Christian’s video here ( on Enlace’s new YouTube Page!

As the Humanities II students boarded their plane to return to the United States, three participants remained in Nicaragua to take part in SUNY Geneseo’s four-week Service Learning program. These students were met with four newcomers, all with the hope to grow personally and professionally through service. During their four weeks in El Sauce, students chose from Enlace Project’s service opportunities, which included: two students working with Enrique Corrales to create profiles for Micro-Loan participants; another two visiting schools in El Sauce and the surrounding “campos” to teach children about proper dental hygiene; and three students working in rural communities with local doctors. Through a series of short readings and reflection sessions, the students gained valuable context for their experience.

With the departure of the Service Learning crew, Enlace Project welcomed its final group for the summer—a collection of four medical students, a nurse practitioner, and an undergraduate respiratory therapy major from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. The relatively new program is in its second year, yet it is developing a positive reputation at the school—all the participants had heard positive feedback from last year’s visitors! Similar to the medical campaign of the Service Learning students, Upstate Medical ventured to rural outposts. However, their work also included visiting local clinics and attended house visits in town. With translators to assist the group, the students received hands-on learning experience and learned about the medical system of Nicaragua.

In addition to working hard, students and Enlace Project staff alike spent the weekends traveling to some of Nicaragua’s most interesting locations. A weekend in Ocotal demonstrated rural life in Nicaragua—complete with coffee farm tours, a basket-making workshop, and tortilla-making tutorials. Groups took trips to León, Granada, and Selva Negra in Matagalpa, and activities varied from the extreme sport of volcano boarding, to hiking through a cloud forest, and touring the Isletas of Granada.

While the groups have since left and returned to their homes in the U.S., we know that they have left a mark on El Sauce, and hope that El Sauce has left a mark on them as well.

Student quotes:

“Nicaragua is an experience I will never forget. I met people I can now call my friends, saw places I never thought I would and made memories that will last forever. I drove up mountains, slid down a volcano, worked with people in rural areas who need help and overall feel changed as a person from being exposed to such a beautiful culture. I went for the service aspect of study abroad but came out with much more knowledge of the learning aspect.”

-Richelle Patricia, Service Learning participant.

“After two months of amazing adventures, new friends, and new members of my family I am leaving on a plane. This experience could not have been more exciting, eye-opening, and wonderful. Tomorrow I will instead of goodbye say see you later, because greatness deserves more than one moment.”

-Patrick McCormick, Humanities II and Service Learning participant.

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