Peace Corps Holidays: Nicaragua

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Because Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment, it allows volunteers to celebrate the holiday season in their host countries and participate in new traditions and customs, while also sharing their own. From now until January, we will highlight stories from Peace Corps volunteers who share their experiences spending the holidays overseas

“Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.” This Christmas carol resonates deeply with Peace Corps volunteer Emily Nilsen, a Thompsonville, Ill., native who is serving as a secondary education English teacher trainer  in Nicaragua. Her husband, Andrew Nilsen, is also serving as a secondary English teacher with her. Together, they embark on their second holiday season away from home, creating their own traditions along the way and sharing Nicaraguan cultures and customs with their family, who will be visiting from the U.S.

Emily Nilsen and her husband Andrew Nilsen spend this holiday season serving together in Nicaragua.
Andrew and Emily Nilsen are spending this holiday season making a difference in Nicaragua.

“Last year for the holidays, we had just arrived to site and were at the beginning of our Peace Corps service. This meant that we could not have visitors, nor visit home.  While a little homesick, we were able to observe lots of local customs and traditions here in Nicaragua.  We even decided to start one of our own – The 12 Days of Nilsen Christmas – where we re-wrote the classic song to include things we could find and explore during the holidays. Continue reading “Peace Corps Holidays: Nicaragua”

Indiana volunteer fundraises for students to attend business conference in Nicaragua

Thomas Pearson has been serving as an entrepreneurship education volunteer in Nicaragua since March of 2014. He teaches in four different schools throughout Nicaragua.
Thomas Pearson has been serving as an entrepreneurship education volunteer in Nicaragua since March of 2014. He teaches in four different schools throughout Nicaragua.

Thomas Pearson knows that his Peace Corps service in Nicaragua is much more than the two years he spends in country. To make a true lasting impact, he is leading, coaching and inspiring the people who have the power to ignite change: students.

With the help of a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant, Pearson and other Nicaraguan Peace Corps volunteers are raising money to help send students in their entrepreneurial classes to a national business conference. The PCPP grants support Peace Corps volunteers’ projects throughout the world. To receive funding, a community must contribute at least 25 percent of the total project’s cost to ensure community ownership and long-term sustainability. Pearson’s goal is to raise $14,196.34 to send students to the conference on Nov. 16-18. Continue reading “Indiana volunteer fundraises for students to attend business conference in Nicaragua”

The simple life: Mizzou Peace Corps recruiter’s service inspires students

Daniel Zozaya (far right), is the new on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Missouri - Columbia. He served as a secondary English teacher facilitator in Ecuador from 2012-14.
Daniel Zozaya (far right), is the new on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Missouri – Columbia. He served as a secondary English teacher facilitator in Ecuador from 2012-14.

It’s the simple things that Daniel Brown Zozaya misses the most about his Peace Corps service in Ecuador.

It’s the afternoon guitar sessions after a day’s work. Or the memory of breaking the icy exterior of the Punguayco River, a river so cold only the taunting from his new-found friends could get him to plunge into the frigid water. Continue reading “The simple life: Mizzou Peace Corps recruiter’s service inspires students”

Peace Corps recruiter educates UW-Madison students about new opportunities

Michal Kloppenburg (right), the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, served in Nicaragua as an agriculture/rural development volunteer from 2009-11.
Micah Kloppenburg (right), the on-campus Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, served in Nicaragua as an agriculture and rural development volunteer from 2009-11.

Growing up, Micah Kloppenburg always wondered who wove the life into the Botswanan baskets that hung above his family’s dinner table. He knew the baskets were remembrances from his parents’ Peace Corps service in Botswana in 1976-79, but he wanted to know more about the culture behind them. As his curiosity about human nature and the world outside of the U.S. expanded, following in his parents’ footsteps became a natural next step.

“Peace Corps challenged my perspective, my preconceptions, and my world views that I had developed as an undergraduate student and pushed them into practical use,” said the returned Peace Corps volunteer. “My Peace Corps experience positively changed and informed those ideas and reinforced my will to make a difference not only abroad, but also at home.” Continue reading “Peace Corps recruiter educates UW-Madison students about new opportunities”

Minneapolis native begins Peace Corps service in Guatemala

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Andrew McInnis, 31, of Minneapolis has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Guatemala on Sept. 22 to begin training as a youth promoter volunteer for the Integrated Youth Development project. McInnis will live and work at the community level to empower Guatemalan youth to live robust lifestyles by helping them make healthy decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health and substance abuse. He will also collaborate with key adults within the community to further support the needs of the youth.

“I joined the Peace Corps because helping is my nature,” said McInnis. “Whether it’s advocating for homeless youth, creating a platform for artists, fixing bicycles, or simply using humor to lighten the mood, I want to help. This is who I am, wherever I am. Peace Corps is a natural step both personally and professionally.” Continue reading “Minneapolis native begins Peace Corps service in Guatemala”

My Peace Corps experience as Native American

Shawn Abeita served in Panama from 2007-09 as a community economic development volunteer. He is now a recruiter for Peace Corps’ Southwest Region. This article originally appeared Sept. 2, 2014 on IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com and on http://peacecorpssouthwest.wordpress.com/.

Growing up on a Native American reservation has profoundshawn_abeita_-_courtesy_peace_corpsly impacted my life choices and career path. My community members and surroundings taught me about the worldview of my people, and the knowledge I acquired from community elders continues to influence how I interact with others. As an Indigenous person, I represent where I come from along with my community’s core values, including love, faith, compassion, service, and dedication to community. These values are instilled in me. They are who I am. My personal goal is to be of service to my community and I have realized the acquisition of knowledge is one avenue to accomplish my goal.

Continue reading “My Peace Corps experience as Native American”