We enjoyed our more tropical surroundings with bowls of fresh fruit this morning, plus eggs, coffee, cereal and other options as we liked.

White pineapple, banana and papaya are readily available — and full of amazing flavor — so there were bowls of them waiting for us and we nearly polished it off.

bowls of fruit

The bowl on the left started as a salad of white pineapple, banana and papaya. The bowl of papaya on the right was brought out when we were getting low on fruit.

Dr. Ellis made scrambled eggs for several of the Ichabods, and many drank coffee. We’ll leave in about an hour for the volcano crater lake at the national park — Laguna de Apoyo. We’ll get to see Managua in the daylight today, too.

Quaker House, where we are staying for the next few days, has WiFi so we’ll update again when we return.

We hope the second day of 2014 is going well for you all. We’re already having an amazing experience.

One more thing. Please don’t worry about us having quality wanter to drink. There are two large coolers that filter our water and we are all encouraged to refill our personal bottles often.

water filters

The water filters at Quaker House

Posted in Go!

We are getting settled in at Quaker House. Our adventure in Nicaragua has begun!

Our journey to Managua was uneventful as far as airport travel goes. Our group made both flights with plenty of time to spare, everyone has all of the luggage they had when we left Kansas City and no one left anything on either plane or the bus. Good start, right?

group in Atlanta

In Atlanta

The Atlanta airport had art all over, plus tons of options for eating and shopping. We ended up with plenty of time to fill our bellies “with the last American food for two weeks.”

Even Travis, who said he is an extremely picky eater, found something. And Suzie shared an important tip: Don’t load up on greasy food when we get home. Last year she had a fast food hamburger in the airport and “regretted that decision.”

It is easy to see how having two people who have been to Nicaragua before in the group is going to be a huge help.

We are ready. Jenna got several Christmas gifts to help with the trip, including a water bottle with a powerful filter. Deanna and Nathan planned their packing around items they can leave behind – including sleeping bags. Katy has already used her Spanish skills to help out the entire group. Meghan has been reading up on the history of the country. And right now, the group is chatting on the back porch at Quaker House.

Two big surprises. First — If we can stand the taste of all of the chlorine, we can actually drink the tap water. We’ll likely opt for the filtered water available at ProNica and elsewhere we will visit.

Second — We can’t flush our toilet paper. It goes in a trash can. The plumbing system here can’t handle it. Although everything in the bowl is no problem, remembering to put all paper in a trash bin may be tricky.

Tomorrow we relax at a volcano lake. Ashante got to relaxing tonight with a ukulele at Quaker House. She played and sang bits of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Ashante jams

Posted in Go!

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.

 


katy-davis

Katy Davis

Everyone is hoping Katy is in the same family stay house as they are. Katy is the only person in our delegation who really knows any amount of Spanish.

A junior and double major in biology and Spanish, Katy said she’s much more comfortable reading and writing in the language than speaking it. She says she’s far from fluent and gaining proficiency in the spoken language is one of the reasons she wanted to travel to Nicaragua in the first place.

The other reason: “Exposure to a culture and living conditions and how different they are. I grew up in a middle-class, white neighborhood,” Katy said during one of our preparation meetings. Like many members of the group, she’s expecting her outlook and priorities to be shifted by what she sees and experiences in Nicaragua. And she’ll gain some language skills, too.

book cover of Webster's Spanish-English dictionary
We’ve been told not to expect to meet many English speakers during our 16 days in Nicaragua. Our guides from ProNica and those who will visit with us at various community organizations will speak English, and some people working in the more tourist-exposed city of Granada may as well.

“Overall, no one speaks English, unless they work at the airport or as tour guides,” Rick Ellis told the group during preparations. This will be his sixth trip to the country with Washburn students and the university’s seventh trip over all.

The prospect of predominantly communicating non-verbally for several days is a bit daunting for some of the group. It all will be part of our Washburn Transformational Experience.

We’ve all been taught the phrase “Que es esto?” or “What is this?” so we can ask for the word of something we’re holding or pointing to. Hopefully, we’ll each build some vocabulary during our four days with the families of El Limón at in time spent with expecting mothers and children during our other stops. Some of us will dig back in our memories for high school Spanish, too.

The other phrase we all know: “Dónde está Katy?” It’s been something to chuckle about at home, but it will be interesting to see how often we use that one.

Any advice for us before we go?


Packing for any major trip is nearly an adventure of its own. The Ichabods headed to Nicaragua have been advised that they will need to be able to carry their own luggage – by themselves – for between ¼ and ½ a mile. For most of us, that means bringing less than the airline’s allowed 50 pounds per bag.

And don’t forget to leave room for coffee. And maybe a painting! (During her first trip, Suzie fell in love with some of the paintings done by a local artist. On her second trip she made sure she had the money and the room for a painting that now hangs in her home.)

Backpacks in a store - from Everywhereonce.com.

So what do you bring for a 16-day trip to Nicaragua?

  • Passport
  • Airline ticket
  • ID, credit card, insurance card and photo copies
  • Medicines and prescription photocopies as required
  • Warm weather clothes – but keep the shorts and tank tops to a minimum. Shorts are and especially speghitti-strap tank tops not commonly worn in Nicaragua.
  • One nicer outfit for meetings with organizations
  • Bathing suit
  • Light jacket or long-sleeve shirt for cool nights in the mountains.

We will have access to a washer and dryer at Quaker House, at the beginning and end of our stay. We may be able to wash our things alongside or home-stay families.

  • Walking shoes
  • Sandals
  • One nicer pair of shoes
  • Flip flops – for the shower only

Several travelers have purchased sneakers second hand so they don’t worry about getting them dirty while we’re working.

  • Towel
  • Toiletries
  • Hat, Sunglasses, Sunblock
  • Bug repellant
  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Cell phone

The Ichabods have been encouraged to “unplug” during the trip, but having a phone or not is a personal decision.

Still not sure you can make it all fit?

Check out these great posts from the blog Everywhere Once about packing for an extended excursion.

The photo of backpacks on this page was borrowed from Everywhere Once


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:

 


nicaragua-map

We will visit the highlighted communities including the capital city of Managua, Estelí, the third-largest city, Matagalpa, home of Universidad del Norte de Nicaragua, and Granada, one of the oldest cities in Central America. During our visit we will also stay in El Limón, not from from Estelí.

By this time in 26 days, a small group of Ichabods will be en route to Managua, Nicaragua. Just in time for the spring semester here in Topeka, we will return “as Nicaraguans,” says Professor Rick Ellis, who oversees Washburn’s Learning in the Community and established the partnership that allows the trip.

“We leave as Kansans. We come back as Nicaraguans,” he has told the group. Washburn partners with the non-governmental organization ProNica, which was established to build “sustainable cross-cultural relationships between the people of Nicaragua and North America using Quaker values.”

The delegation from Washburn will spend time in five cities. We will study the country’s history and the impact of the United States upon that history. We will work with residents of each community we visit, helping them to complete tasks that already are underway. We will live with families in the rural community of El Limón, learn about their lives and culture and, since most of us aren’t Spanish speakers, we’ll learn a lot about non-verbal communication.

iPhone with countdown app

Tara’s countdown app.

“I’m so excited! It’s going by so fast,” said Tara Phillips, who is a sophomore majoring in elementary special education from Lancaster, Kan. Tara has an app on her phone that counts down to our departure time by the second. “I’ve been ready for this since before I came to Washburn.”

About Nicaragua

  • The Republic of Nicaragua sits between Honduras (north) and Costa Rica (south).
  • In 2012 the country’s population was estimated by the World Bank at 5.992 million people.
  • President Daniel Ortega has lead the country since 2007. He also served as the country’s leader from 1979 to 1990.
  • Nicaragua’s currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba. As of Dec. 6, 2013 one córdoba oro was worth $0.04 in US dollars.
  • The weather in Topeka is frightful this time of year. While we’re gone, the high temperatures in western Nicaragua, where we are staying, are expected to be in the 80s. Overnight lows in the 60s are common. (Check for today’s detailed forecast.)
  • Learn more about Nicaragua from Lonely Planet
Nicaragua's flag

Nicaragua’s flag