My Place of Solace


“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain

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People often ask what we do all day since we are retired. One thing is for certain. We have stopped watching world news. It is too depressing. Besides, there is very little we can do about fixing the big problems in the world. But, there are many little things we can do as expats to help make the world a little better for our local communities.

I started a children’s library in our small La Paloma Elementary school two years ago. It has become my solace and place of refuge from this mad, mad world in which we live.
It is my place of hugs, laughter, and wisdom absorbed through my skin.

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Happy Nicaraguan Mother’s Day


Mothers have a tremendous impact on the world in which we live. All the more reason to celebrate mothers and motherhood around the world.  Nicaragua celebrates Mother’s Day on Monday, May 30th. It is a holiday for all working mothers and my second celebration of Mother’s Day because we celebrate Mother’s Day in the states the first week in May.

To honor the mothers of Nicaragua, the La Paloma Elementary School performed dances, poetry readings, and songs for their mothers.

Maxwell was the DJ. He set up the laptop, downloaded music for the programs and connected the speakers to the laptop. He is the perfect media specialist!

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Earth Day Nicaraguan Style


“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon

This week we are celebrating Earth Day at the La Paloma Elementary School. Because one of the greatest environmental problems in Nicaragua is deforestation and destruction of the Nicaraguan forests, we decided to stress the importance of trees to the elementary students through a variety of fun age-appropriate activities.

The Nicaragua Network reported, ” Logging of the 72,000 hectares of pine forests in Nueva Segovia, Madriz, and Estelí was stopped on Apr. 13 by an order from the Nicaraguan Institute of Forestry (INAFOR). On Apr. 15, government communications coordinator Rosario Murillo announced the formation of a presidential commission to evaluate Nicaragua’s forests which would be led by Attorney General Hernan Estrada.”

We could think of no better way to teach environmental awareness than through Dr. Seuss and The Lorax. Ron hauled a bucket of dirt to the library and filled the cups with the dirt, while Maxwell and I set up the program for the first and second graders.

IMG_1614I found several songs in Spanish from The Lorax movie, downloaded them to a memory stick and played them for the kids using our new projector. We already had The Lorax book in Spanish, but when I was looking for songs in Spanish, I found a video of a woman reading The Lorax and downloaded that, too.

Maxwell introduced the book and asked the children what they thought the book was about. Smart kids! We received a variety of good answers; It is going to be about chopping down trees. It will be about dirty water. I think it is about how to take care of the earth. 

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Do What You Know


“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.”
― Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

What do you do after moving abroad when the newness wears off and you feel like everything has become routine? I hear many expats say, “I need to find my purpose here.”

For some, it may take several years to find their purpose. Others never find it and become disgruntled and dissatisfied because their adopted country doesn’t meet their high expectations. I arrived on Ometepe Island as a freshly retired teacher with two children’s Spanish books. Because of those children’s books and 30 years of teaching K-12 and University education majors, I found my passion naturally.

The neighborhood kids came to my house regularly to read the books over and over. It didn’t take me long to find my purpose. I did what I knew the best…teaching. I became a rewired and retired teacher…my own boss…and started a children’s library in my little local La Paloma Elementary School.

I converted a storage room into a library, made bookcases, collected over 2,000 children’s books in Spanish with the help of many generous benefactors, and hired and trained Maxwell to be my librarian.  He took English lessons from me eleven years ago…and when I expressed my need for a librarian…there he was.

I Do What I Know Best


Teachers are master fundraisers.
We know exactly what the students need and how to get what they need. We beg, plead, and seek donations, discounts, and items on sale like professional bargainers. We are marketing marvels…selling the needs of our students to everyone who passes by our classroom doors. Continue reading

Part Two: Service Learning and the La Paloma Library


“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~Sir James M. Berry

Sunshine they indeed brought…in the form of painting our library, the smiles and laughter of the children, and their service to others. In August, a group from Go for Hope completed a service learning project at our La Paloma Library.

I am sorry this post is so old, but I wanted to spread the word about our new donations.
Fuego y Agua Ultra Marathons will be held on Ometepe Island the first week in February. We volunteer to run the aid stations every year and it is so exciting.

IMG_0157This year, the Fuego y Agua is going to give all the proceeds from their annual Beer Run held on Friday, February 5th to our La Paloma Elementary School.
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A Lesson in Persistence


“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Ron, you have to see this,” I shouted from the living room. A chicken bus spinning its wheels, grinding its gears, and unable to go forward or backward appeared to be hopelessly stuck in the deep sand on our beach.

Yet, throughout the three-hour ordeal, I learned a lesson in perseverance that the Nicaraguans show over and over again. They never give up. What we perceive as hopelessness, they tackle with determination, persistence, and always with smiles and laughter. Incredible!

Nosotros Pequeños Hermanos outing looked like it was headed for disaster. The Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos NGO had an orphanage on Ometepe Island until 2010, when our sleepy Concepcion volcano decided to wake-up. Fearfully, the organization transferred the children to the mainland in Jinotepe, but continued to run a small farm and a project called Samaritan Project on the island.

Every year, they bring the children back to Ometepe Island to visit and volunteer on the farm. When we saw 50 orphans stranded on our beach, we grabbed the shovels and joined in the fun of helping them dig out their chicken bus.

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Where Do They Go From Here?


“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford

 

In Nicaragua, the academic school year starts in February and ends in December. Ron and I were invited to be a part of two graduation ceremonies this December. The first graduation ceremony took place at our La Paloma elementary school, which has 88 students, 4 teachers, and now the librarian that I hired for my library in the school.

The second graduation ceremony took place in Urbite High School, where our god-daughter graduated. The education statistics are frightful and the state of education in Nicaragua is and has been in crisis and stagnation for many years.

I can’t help but wonder where the graduates will go from here.
IMG_96072014 statistics report that Nicaragua has 1,389,000 pupils enrolled in primary and secondary education. Of these pupils 940,000 (67%) are enrolled in primary education.

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Behind the Tourist Scenes on Ometepe Island


IMG_1121Surreal looking, isn’t it? We have lived on Ometepe Island for many years, and this morning was our first trip to the garbage dump. I have no words for our experience. It is an open air dump where horses and dogs scavenge for food, children work picking through the garbage, and putrid smells and flies infiltrate every part of our bodies.

Tourists NEVER see this. Yet, I feel that they need to see our dump. Awareness is the first step to changing the world. Yet, in creating an awareness of this atrocity, where do we go from here?

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Independence


I am off the island heading for the states this morning. I leave you with a few photos from our Nicaragua Independence Day parade.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

IMG_9368“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”
― Anaïs Nin
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