For essential workers during the pandemic commuting to and from work can become a tedious yet necessary part of the day. My commute each day would involve a 45 minute car ride, ~20 hour connecting flights, and a 2.5 hour bus ride from Hershey, PA to Jinotega, Nicaragua. This is not the case, because of the wonderful platform of Zoom(R). My daily travels are simplified to being in front of my computer and even if there are connection difficulties, it beats the 24 hour commute to Jinotega. International volunteers have been unable to visit Jinotega since 2018 due to political unrest, but adapting through technology has made new opportunities possible.
Thanks to Zoom, each day I can participate in the four-week STEM education internship through Outreach360. Finding productive and helpful measures during these difficult times were something I sought after before my next steps in life, and it led me back to Outreach360. This organization has provided educational opportunities to children in both the Dominican Republic (DR) and Nicaragua through volunteers from all over the world. From 3pm-7pm EST, I am behind my computer monitor learning and teaching similarly to my last Spring break in the DR. I’m so grateful for this experience and the ability to share my passion about STEM. You can see my desktop and zoom experience from the first two pictures below. I dedicate time each day to plan for class and find interesting experiments that we can do over Zoom. Some experiments go really well and everyone is able to learn, but others can flop. The additional challenges have been difficult to overcome in the ‘classroom’, but this experience has shown me the extraordinarily bright young minds that are eager to learn English and STEM. Some links to my teaching resources are found at the end of this post for anyone interested!
The last two pictures above are from the Nicaragua’s Outreach360 Volunteer Coordinator, Coco Barrett, who is currently stationed in Nicaragua. She is responsible for organizing our teaching efforts and ensuring opportune learning in the classrooms. She has been with Outreach for nearly a decade and her experience helps us to see Jinotega, Nicaragua like we were there in person! She sends us pictures from outside showing how the city of Jinotega achieved the name of “the city of mist” as well as the native plant diversity, like the triplaris or palo santo pictured on the right. The encouragement from the staff at Outreach360 makes the experience even more worth the energy spent teaching the kids!
In addition to occasional pictures, we have the opportunity for virtual field trips made and presented by native Nicaragua residents that are actively involved with Outreach360. Teacher Alma, Teacher Indira, and Teacher Belen have shared many stories and interesting facts about their culture and upbringing. A vibrant and beautiful land surrounds Jinotega with mountains and mist. Some pictures from today’s virtual excursion are shown below. Subscribe here for future updates about my experiences with Outreach360: