Fifteen Minutes of Fame - let´s hope it lasts longer than that.

Sunday, 9 May 2010 — Hola everyone! This last month has been abuzz with activity, very much like the school beehives which are finally starting to produce golden delicious honey, though not quite enough to start selling yet.
Following the Easter holidays, in order to complement the coffee plant business La Bastilla Coffee Estates organised a series of workshops for the students on how to cultivate different variations of coffee plants. Whilst stimulating, this was a challenging process which required a lot of patience. Nonetheless, overall it was a highly productive session.

La Bastilla was fortunate enough to recently have a London-based schools Environmental Advisor, not only visit, but volunteer for a week. Students from both the agricultural technical school, and the primary-regualr secondary school in the community, were treated to presentations on environmental conservation. The talks not only served an educational purpose but allowed for cross cultural exchange, with the students creating posters, sending messages and photos to new friends in schools around London. It is hoped that this will lead to a twinning project between schools in London and in La Bastilla.
It seems that more and more people are becoming aware of the educational project in La Bastilla, and the technical school is starting to attract more local attention, including media attention. I was extremely suprised a few weeks ago to be approached, whilst I was in Jinotega with a final year student, by a local tv channel who had learnt that two girls from La Bastilla were in town and wanted an interview. Though slightly confused at this unexpected request we consented and talked about the self-sufficient educational model and exciting new developments at the school. I have to admit, I was disappointed that I was unable to watch my fifteen minutes of fame on tv later that night, as by the time the show aired at 10pm, the electricity had been switched off for the day at the school. However, I have been assured that my Nicaraguan silver screen debut successfully aired, as I have since been stopped in the street by strangers (who seem to know all about me) wanting to talk to me about the project. Whilst it is great that information about the educational project is reaching the masses, I am still adjusting to my newly found fame.

Last weekend La Bastilla Ecolodge was invited to attend the first ever Northern Regional Tourism Fair in Esteli. This was a two-day event with over 150 companies and organisations, each given their own stand to publicise their businesses. We took advantage of this opportunity to promote not just the the ecolodge, but the other ventures of the school, including the student-produced handicrafts, and of course the self-sufficient education model. Other than establishing new contacts, generating new clients for the ecolodge and the school, the event was an important educational experience for the six students who participated, learning not only about the tourism industry but also teaching them to communicate and sell to strangers, thus building their confidence.


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