My experience teaching in Nicaragua is one that made a huge impact on my teaching philosphy. I am a strong believer that education is the gateway to opportunity. I found that there is very little opportunity for men, women, and children in the villages of Jiquillilo and Little Corn Island in Nicaragua.
I spent my first summer in Nicaragua in 2014. Jiquillilo is a small fishing village on the west coast of Nicaragua. With 90% of the village's economy based on the fish that are brought back from sea each day, many children are raised to become fishermen. Even if it is not pushed upon children, there is very little opportunity within the village for them to become anything else. Little Corn Island, an island with only 1,200 natives, is no different. A 30 minute boat ride from the main island and a 45 minute flight from Managua seperates Little Corn Island and its inhabitants from a life other than lobster diving.
However, I stumbled upon an organization that was putting opportunity back into these places. With this organization, I helped to build sustainable infastructure within their communities as well as work at an afterschool English program. In Jiquillilo, the ability to learn english gives opportunity to children to desire to do more with their futures than fish. Learning english gives them the power to go outside the village and take jobs in larger cities such as Managua, often in hospitality and tourism.
While Little Corn Island continues to grow in popularity for its secluded and amazing beaches, the hotel business is taking off on the island. English skills set those who desire to work in hotels and restaurants apart from others and increase their chances of getting hired.
Adults voluntarily came to free english lessons to learn from us on Sunday's, and Monday through Friday young adults joined us at 8:30 in the morning. At 2:00 pm we visited the elemntary schools and, though the students were done with school that day, they chose to stay in order to get extra help in their english skills. The desire within all of these individuals and the sacrifices they made, which often included walking several miles, to learn was nothing short of inspirational.
In Jiquillilo and Little Corn, I was able to work with cooperating teachers to draft my own math and reading lessons, teach them to my peers, and watch as they taught them to the children. It was amazing to see my work carried out, and it is without a doubt an experience I will forever remember.
Working with both children and adults in Nicaragua changed me so much that I had to return the following summer. Seeing so many familiar faces, just one year later, I was absolutely amazed at how their english conversational skills had improved. Nicaragua will always have a place in my heart and the people I worked with there will never know how much of an impact they left on me.
Below you can see some of my favorite photos of the children, me teaching, and the school in both Jiquillilo and Little Corn.