This past June two Enlace Project English students, Javier “Javi” Rocha and Ronald Medal, had an opportunity to apply their English skills as program assistants for the visiting Iowa State engineering students working with Emerging Opportunities for Sustainability International (EOS International) working on four low-cost technology projects in and around San Isidro. The project, like all of EOS International’s projects aim to provide under-served communities with access to low-cost appropriate technologies that generate income, improve health, and preserve the environment. But Ronald and Javi were not just translating for students, but also were actively involved in the projects.
Ronald told us more saying “one of them that I worked with was to create a stove with rice husks for fuel. Supposedly rice husks product a hot flame with very little smoke. Supposedly the heat can reach 600 degrees Fahrenheit which means you can boil water in 7 minutes.” Technology like this has potential to reduce respiratory illness common to cooking with heavy smoking ovens that are used throughout rural Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, Javi worked with other students on a bio-char maker that uses rice husks as well. Ronald explains that the char is helpful for farmers because when planted with crops it helps retain moisture, a key battle for farmers during Nicaragua’s dry season that starts at the end of November and ends in May. Given the poor winter rains in the last two years there is a real need for creative solutions like this, especially if these conditions continue into a third year.
Of course, working with the Iowa State students presented more challenges than what to do with all those rice husks for Javi and Ronald; they had to do it all in a second language! When asked Ronald noted that the group had a different accent than others he has worked with from the U.S. saying, “[as] you know I am accustomed to working with people from New York…but it was a good experience because working with more people from different states help me understand more. It’s more than just you and me talking all the time!”* Said Ronald.
Ronald also shared that many in the group were impressed by his English and asked where he’s learned it. “So I told them that I study English in a program with an NGO in my town!”
EOS International co-founder Wes Meier had this to say about the trip:
EOS has worked with Enlace's guides and translators throughout the past three years. This summer EOS hosted a group of 16 Iowa State University engineering students, alumni, and professors. Enlace provided EOS with two of their translators to support ISU exchange program-Javi and Ronald. Both Ronald and Javi had a high level of English to support the group projects. The students were able to connect with the two of them at a personal level and were able to gain friendships.
The students appreciated the local knowledge that they both had regarding local materials, agricultural practices, and the like to help further the student projects for the month that they were in Nicaragua. The students were also able to learn basic Spanish with the support of the translators.
Enlace Project is proud to have helped students like Javier and Ronald develop their English to a level that opens up employment opportunities like their work with EOS International. We can’t wait to share more and more success stories with our followers and to see where English takes our students and friends in the future.
*A reference to his much beloved English teacher and interviewer, me.