Nicky and Steve - great volunteering experience at La Bastilla

Hello there! We are Nicky and Steve and we are students from the USA who are volunteering with La Bastilla in Nicaragua for 4 weeks. We both study Computer Science at university and brought a donation of 7 laptops, in order to help the school here and also to teach the students some useful IT and Computer Science skills.  

We have almost finished our second week of volunteering at La Bastilla Technical Agricultural High School and so far things have gone great. The weather for the most part is lovely and warm, and while we are tiring somewhat of gallo pinto (local dish of fried rice and beans), we’ve been smothering it in hot sauce to make it more exciting! Overall the food is very nice though, and we get to eat eggs and veg from the school businesses. The hotel has fantastic accomodation - the view is beautiful, the staff are super friendly, and the beds are really quite incredibly comfortable - though Nicky “El Gigante” Robinson claims they are “too darn short”!  

Interacting with the students has been a pleasure.  We can now recognize and name about 31 of them (so that's most of them!), and have nice conversations with the guys, though their quick and colloquial Spanish can be difficult to understand at times. Good practice though!  They are extremely friendly and welcoming, and especially with the skills they’ve learned at La Bastilla they’re all really impressive people.  When it comes to carrying heavy loads, feeding the animals, playing football, or doing anything else physical, we feel pretty outclassed! We have been taking it in turns to spend time with the students in each of the businesses and now know way more about chickens, milking, baking and planting than 2 weeks ago! 

Steve trying his hand at baking...  Steve trying his hand at baking... 

The students have so far reacted very well to our classes. We’ve taught two English Club sessions, two math classes, several web design classes, and a class about how to make flyers using Microsoft Word. We’re planning a java programming class for later today, so we’ll see how that goes. The students seemed to enjoy all of them, though the web design classes have got them particularly enthused.  They’ve made some great progress, although the complicated (and English-oriented) programming language makes it a little difficult for them.  In any case, we’re expecting that quite a few students will have some nifty sites designed by the end of next week and we hope to share them with you!  

Steve teaching a web design class Steve teaching an IT class  

We also managed to do some fun travelling around Matagalpa and Jinotega during the weekend.  There are lots of nice places to see and explore around here.  We’re going to check out San Rafael this coming weekend, which should be rather exciting as they have a zip lining course. 

Overall our time here so far has been quite a fantastic experience.  Our Spanish is improving, the classes are really fun to teach, and our interactions with students and staff are interesting, entertaining, and educational all at once.  Thankfully, it seems that the rest of our stay here will be similarly awesome.  Stay posted for more news!   

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