Washburn’s 10th student delegation to Nicaragua has arrived safely and spent a relaxing first day at a volcanic crator lake.

We are again hosted by ProNica, a Quaker NGO based in Florida. We are a group of 14 students, one faculty member and one staff member. Among the group, the students are studying to become nurses, business professionals, social workers, teachers and biologists. Two students are here for a second time. All of us have our eyes and minds open.

Already there have been big questions: Why is poverty so high in Nicaragua but crime is so low? What social problems are most prevelant here? What are the political debates currently, as the 2016 election nears? What’s happening with the canal? And the land disputes on the eastern side of the country? Some of the answers are yet to come.

We spent most of the day at Laguna de Apoyo, the incredibly deep and incredibly blue volcanic crator lake. Tonight, the chance to learn about the folk art and music traditional to Nicaragua. This country, the size of Wisconsin with about six million people, as a rich musical and artistic heritage. There are murals everywhere. Maramba and guitar are popular. But those things, we learned, are not taught in the country’s public schools. Instead, children often attend after school programs for instruction in painting, music appreciation and playing insturments.

One student said today was the perfect beginning to the trip. The relaxation allowed us all to take in the cultural differences slowly. So much is ahead for us in these 14 days.

Tomorrow we will visit Granada, the oldest colonial city in Central America. Markets, historic sites and our first service provider visit await.


This year’s group — the 10th from Washburn to travel to the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes — is preparing for its New Year’s Day departure from Kansas City.

Among the group this year are several students involved in Learning in the Community, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Washburn. They are serving in a variety of settings in Topeka and eager to see how organizations operate and serve community needs in Nicaragua.

Some of this year’s students have never been on an airplane. Others are returning to Nicaragua again and looking forward to seeing their (host) families in El Limon, as well as their friends from ProNica, the Quaker organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida, that hosts us all.

Click the itinerary page to learn more about what we’ll be doing. Regular posts will begin after our arrival in Managua, Nicaragua.


iPad with wireless indicator onThere will be days while we are in Nicaragua that it will be impossible to share on this blog. That’s the reality of many countries today.

According to UNdata, in 2011 only about 10 percent of Nicaragua’s population had Internet access. When we are in El Limón, for example, there will be no Internet access. The village just got electricity a few years ago.

The Ichabods traveling to Nicaragua have been advised to leave their cell phones at home, to go on social media hiatus. To live in the moment for every second they are on Nicaraguan soil.

In past years, most have done just that, Ellis said.

While the technology exists that would allow us to transmit from anywhere the stories and photos of our experience as they happen, investing in it did not make sense for our purposes. I’ll have an iPad, a digital SLR camera and an HD Flip video camera. That’s it.

We’ll be posting stories and photos of our experience as much as possible along the way. Don’t worry, though, if we are incommunicado for a few days. We’ll be back.

Whatever we don’t get a chance to share while we’re gone, we’ll make up for it when we return to Topeka. And that won’t be the end of it. We’ll produce a video and share the lessons we learn in an upcoming edition of The Ichabod alumni magazine.

Stay tuned.

 


Congratulations to the following Washburn students who are traveling abroad during winter or spring 2014:

Semester and short-term programs

Belgium

Michaela Lazzo and Ashley Russell will spend the semester at PXL University College, Hasselt. They are studying fine arts.

Finland

Caitlin Beckman, Sara Burton, Kelli Gramlich and Sarah Hayden will spend four weeks at Mikkeli University of Applied Studies in Savonlinna. They will also complete a clinical nursing experience.

France

Paul LaCount will spend the semester at University of Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand. He will study French language.

Ireland

Danae Nelson will spend the semester at National University of Ireland in Maynooth studying general education.

Netherlands

Rachel Catlett will spend the semester studying law at Maastricht University in Maastricht.

Faculty-Led Programs

Belize

Judith McConnell-Farmer, professor of education, is leading Brooke Brennan, Garrett Fenley, Chandler Hillebert, Natalie Jones, Lauren Journot, Courtney Kesselring, Jacob Lewis, Erin Macaronas, Ashley Murrell, Brittany Schuman, Rachel Seuell, Lon Talbert, Ryann Vobach, Mary Webb and Tasha Whittington.

During two weeks in and around Belize City, Belize, students will volunteer at orphanages and the Caye Caulker Island School. They also will attend the Belizean International Symposium on Education.

Belize1

Members of the delegation to Belize at the study abroad awards ceremony in November.

Costa Rica

Randy Pembrook, vice president for academic affairs at Washburn, is leading Joanna Becker, Ty Buschbom, Edith Jimenez, Rachel Klaus and Taylor Moore.

During their time in and around San Jose, Costa Rica, students will volunteer at a retreat camp, local orphanages and in dental clinics.

India

Andy Vogel, international student recruitment and retention, will lead Robert Florence, Kristen Hearrell and Jordan Mills as well as a number of community members.

During nearly three weeks in and around Pune, Maharashtra, India, the group will explore Indian culture and history through general study of ancient and contemporary traditions at Simbiosis International University.

Nicaragua

Rick Ellis  will lead Rachel Beiker, Travis Bussen, Kathryn Davis, Suzie Fields, Samantha Finley, Jenna Frick, Deanna Goracke, Laura Highland, Meghan McGuire, Tara Phillips, Katarzyna Potocka, Nathan Robertson, Wyatt Robinett and Ashonte Tell.

During just over two weeks in Nicaragua, students will explore the history and culture while engaged in service both in Managua and rural communities. Explore this blog to learn more about the students involved in this particular trip and their experiences in Nicaragua from Jan. 1-16, 2014.

members of the group

Meghan, Tara, Katy, Nathan, Deanna, Travis and Suzie at the awards ceremony in November

Rick Ellis

Rick Ellis talking about the upcoming trip at the ceremony in November

 


Geneva Seybold

Geneva Seybold

As we prepare for our journey to Central America, it is important to recognize the scholarship support that has made this experience possible.

Every student in the delegation to Nicaragua who is completing the International Education Washburn Transformational Experience is receiving more than $1,000 in support.

Washburn University offers more scholarship resources for students studying abroad than any other university in Kansas. That’s possible because of a $1 million estate gift made by Geneva Seybold.

Seybold, who earned an English degree from Washburn in 1921, traveled the world for one year as a young woman, after saving $1,500 and quitting her job.

“If you want to build your dreams and you want to be changed, she wanted to make sure you could do that — forever,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, executive director of the Washburn University Foundation, during a program recognizing scholarship recipients. “Take her dream and her intent and run with it. Have the best experience you possibly can.”

Seybold died at the age of 104 in 2004. Because of her gift, Washburn is able to award about $50,000 in scholarships for international experiences each year.

During winter break and Spring 2014 nearly 60 students are participating in study abroad experiences ranging from 12 days to semester-long programs. In addition to our faculty-led trip to Nicaragua (14 students), three other faculty-led experiences will take students to Belize (15), Costa Rica (5) and India (3). Students will spend the semester studying in Belgium (2), France (1), Ireland (1) and Netherlands (1) and four nursing students will complete a four-week clinical experience in Finland.

Each will be transformed. Mazachek told the group: “You will come home and say ‘I know that I can do that and I never thought I could.'”

Learn more about: