Nicaragua

Nicaragua
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION 

Nicaragua program is already closed for 2017. Please check out our other Spanish sites as great alternatives. Teen volunteers with VISIONS Nicaragua will visit what is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere to work on projects that address issues surrounding poverty and natural resources. Projects include the construction of potable water systems, the construction of a two-story community center, and volunteering at a summer day camp for children. Participants will have the opportunity to practice Spanish while working alongside local friends, and while visiting a “green” coffee farm, hiking through cloud forests, and exploring the Bosawás biosphere reserve.

  • A local girl poses in Jinotega, which is our host community in Nicaragua
  • VISIONS high school volunteers watch a tropical rain storm in Nicaragua.
  • A scene from our host community in Nicaragua. VISIONS volunteers stay in the communities where we work.
  • A VISIONS teen traveler poses with a local child in Nicaragua
  • A group of teen travelers checking out a local event during an outing on VISIONS Nicaragua program
  • At a baseball game in Nicaragua
  • Nicaragua Participants Create Pottery during a cultural interaction
  • A sign welcoming our group to Jinotega for our summer service project
  • A VISIONS participant helps a local resident prepare a traditional recipe
  • Some teen travelers posing together in the hills overlooking Jinotega
  • A group of teen volunteers poses at a service project in Nicaragua
  • Scenes from daily life in Nicaragua, including a visit to a local market and a job site

Welcomed Service

Nicaragua is second only to Haiti as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our partner there is Asociación de Voluntarios para del Desarrollo Comunitario (AVODEC), a nonprofit that tackles issues surrounding poverty and natural resources. VISIONS teens have constructed numerous potable water systems, bringing clean drinking water to communities that never imagined such a luxury. In addition to water projects, you will help build a two-story community center that will serve in part as a facility for visiting physicians who perform vital surgeries. You also will have the chance to volunteer at a summer day camp for children, teaching crafts and basic English.

Full Immersion

Nicaraguans embrace life with openness and optimism. The culture is social and lively, and we spend many afternoons after work doing what Nicaraguans do—playing sports and games with kids, exploring town, hiking the popular Peña de la Cruz for a panoramic view of Jinotega, taking dance lessons and going out for a couple of karaoke nights. You will visit an historic cathedral, host a guest speaker who was an instrumental peacemaker during wartime, prepare local foods with our cook, and break into pairs for weekly “dinner stays” with families. You will be able to practice your Spanish skills and return home having made local friends you’ll yearn to visit again.

"I loved making friends and spending time with Nicaraguan people. I felt I was able to make real connections."

Virginia Ulichney – Wayne, Pennsylvania
Our Home Base 
Jinotega
We live in the central highland city of Jinotega. In the cloud forests where the climate is cooler than the lowlands, Jinotega nestles at the base of a mountain range in a region renowned for coffee production.
While Nicaragua is a budding tourist hotspot, Jinotega is not a well-known destination. For VISIONS, this is one of its charms. We started our work in Nicaragua in 2007, drawn to the gaucho-Old West culture where one can also take in aromas of coffee being roasted throughout town. Well past the civil war of three decades ago, Nicaraguans now are focused on gradual economic development, sustainable and green initiatives, and improving standards of living. Teens on this summer program have a unique opportunity to be part of some of some of the important changes taking place in northern Nicaragua.
Explore Nicaragua

We visit at an ecological coffee farm, seeing coffee production from start to finish, and hiking to scenic vistas. You will spend a day learning the craft of black pottery and also visit Mercado Viejo, Nicaragua’s largest artisan market. Explore the Bosawás biosphere reserve, the second biggest rainforest in the Americas. Spend a day and night at Laguna de Apoyo, a stunning crater lake where you can kayak, swim, and take in Nicaragua's ecological abundance.

Daily Life

We live together as a group in a large home in one of Jinotega’s neighborhoods. There are showers and bathrooms, a kitchen and communal space, separate sleeping quarters for boys and girls, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.

Service projects are five days a week and usually end mid-afternoon. You get to choose your worksite each day, one of which is the primary construction site. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” instead of a worksite. This crew of a few participants and a leader makes breakfast, goes to local markets to buy food for the next meals, does laundry, and takes in a “day in the life” of northern Nicaragua.

Afternoons after work are for cultural activities and nearby outings: games with local kids, chatting with neighbors, short hikes, workshops, and plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish. Weekends and a few other days are set aside for travel and excursions during the first session. The second, shorter session includes some of the same highlights as the first session, but condensed into afternoons and one full-day excursion.

Meals include vegetarian and meat options, and a local cook prepares all our dinners. A few evenings a week, we have group meetings to talk through the cultural and volunteer experience.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home and are part of the fabric of daily life. The itineraries provide an overview of some of our activities in Nicaragua.

Itinerary

First Day
Last Day
Arrivals to Managua & Drive to Jinotega
Orientation & Welcome Dinner
First Full Day of Worksites
Fourth of July Cookout with local friends
Short work day for full afternoon of artisan workshops
Organic Coffee Plantation Excursion
Community Day: Visit Host Families, Pickup Sports, Social Time
Peñas Blancas Ecolodge & Waterfall Hike
Day Stays with Local Families (done in pairs)
Community Goodbye Dinner
Overnight Excursion: Masaya Volcano, the Old Market, Laguna de Apoyo
Departures from Managua
  • Taking time to soak in our surroundings during a break in Nicaragua
  • Immersed in day to day life during the VISIONS Nicaragua program
  • Teen volunteers hiking in Nicaragua
  • We took this bus from the airport to our home base in Jinotega
  • Pictures of VISIONS teens interacting with local residents in Nicaragua
  • Teen volunteers working on a potable water project with local partners in Nicaragua
  • A horse in a pasture near our home base in Nicaragua
  • Teen volunteers looking out on the scenery of Nicaragua from their work site

More Details

Summer leaders receive students at the Managua airport and then travel three hours by bus to Jinotega. Leaders also see each participant off from the airport at the end of the program.
Parents receive a call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
We live together as a group in a rented house, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. VISIONS provides bunk beds, and participants bring their own sheets and pillow.
VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
Nicaragua 1: 40 community service hours. Nicaragua 2: 60 service hours.
Program Director
Nicaragua I & II

NOT QUITE READY?

We are happy to put you in touch with parents whose children have participated in our programs.