Spanish school and Sustainable Tourism project in Nicaragua

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About the Project

Unearth the World (UTW) has partnered with a non-profit Spanish school and eco-hotel, 40 minutes away from Managua in Nicaragua. The project’s goal is to bring responsible tourism, jobs and sustained income into the community and collaborate on various local initiatives like school libraries, an organic farm, reforestation project, afterschool programming and a school working with children with disabilities.

On average, 60 people and their families benefit from this project either through direct work at the hotel (teachers, maintenance workers, kitchen staff, etc.…) or via the community projects. Local income is also generated through the homestay program.

Volunteers spend their days working on the community project of their choice and engaging in Spanish classes led by professional teachers from the local community.

 

Requirements

Individuals, groups and families of all ages are welcome! To read more about what a family trip to Nicaragua would look like, read this blog.

Start/Duration

Start/Duration: Dates are flexible as volunteers are always welcomed to this project. Volunteers can spend anywhere from 1-52 weeks in Nicaragua. Long-term volunteer placements/internships are also available.

Accommodations and Meals

Travelers have various housing options that include an eco-hotel, eco-cabin and/or a homestay with a local family.

Local women from the town prepare food at the Spanish school. Food is typically vegetarian with fresh and local ingredients. Meals are typical Nicaragua dishes like Gallo pinto. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided when staying at the eco-hotel. For those travelers engaging in a homestay, breakfast and dinner are provided by the family but lunch is typically eaten at the eco-hotel.

Orientation

Volunteers will receive two orientations.  The first is before you even leave home!  Unearth the World staff believes in fully preparing volunteers for their travel experience.  So, prior to your departure, we will educate you about the country, customs, language, and project itself so you can have realistic expectations of the project prior to your arrival. Read more about Unearth the World’s global service-learning training curriculum here. Once volunteers arrive in Nicaragua, the project staff will provide another short orientation in order to acclimate you to your surroundings, give you guidance on the current needs of the project, and discuss the inner workings of the eco-hotel.

hammock

About Nicaragua

The Republic of Nicaragua – the largest country in Central America – borders Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, this varied country has a mixture of cultural traditions and biological diversity making it an interesting, dynamic and exciting place to visit. After gaining its independence from Spain in 1821, the country experienced years of political unrest, civil war and natural disasters. However, Nicaragua has experienced peace since 1990, and is now the safest country in Central America. Nicaragua has celebrated several successive free elections.

Despite all of this, Nicaragua is the least visited country in Central America and, so far, the most unspoiled!

Agriculture is the cornerstone of the economy constituting 60% of its exports and 17% of the GDP. The principal crops are corn, beans, sorghum, and rice. Tourism is the second largest industry in the nation and is increasing rapidly.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. According to the UN, 48% of the population lives below the poverty line and 79.9% live with less than $2 per day. This sustainable eco-tourism project aims to address poverty and conserve the environment by bringing jobs and income into the community and supporting local community driven initiatives.

classrooms

Typical Volunteer Schedule

Volunteers work and learn Spanish Monday through Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm.  Travelers spend half of the day learning Spanish from local people and half of the day at their project.

Current projects include:

  • Wildlife and animal rescue.
  • Working alongside local teachers to provide afterschool programming and support of libraries for several community schools.
  • Working with local ladies of a women’s cooperative as they grow and operate an income-generating bakery.
  • Reforestation projects. Daily tasks include helping out on an organic farm, nature reserve, planting trees, building structures (using eco materials, such as straw) and harvesting coffee.
  • Teaching English. Certified English teachers are able to service the secondary schools. Hotel guests or volunteers without certification can teach English informally through conversation classes to local secondary school students or the eco-hotel staff.
  • Working alongside local staff and volunteers to provide a 6-week program of activities for children with disabilities, including music, crafts, games, horse therapy and sports. *Occupational and Physical Therapists are especially valued at this project.

A typical day might look like this:

  • 7:30 am – 8:00 am:  Locally prepared breakfast  .
  • 8:00 am – 12:00 pm:  One-on-one Spanish classes with a well trained, experienced and professional teacher who lives in the local community. The teachers combine their unique blend of language teaching skills, enthusiasm, and humor during 2 hours of grammar and 2 hours of conversation classes.
  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Lunch is available for all travelers at the school and typically includes mixed salad made of fresh organic vegetables, a local dish, and fresh juice.
  • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm:  Volunteers head to their projects and spend the rest of the afternoon engaged in the local community.
  • 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm:  Free time to relax, explore, study Spanish or hang out with homestay families.
  • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Enjoy dinner – typically a Nicaraguan specialty – at the homestay or eco-hotel.
  • 7:00 pm – Bed: Downtime to be spent as you would like.

Typical volunteer week:

Work/school days are Monday – Friday and are generally quite full.  Travelers spend half of the day learning Spanish and the other half immersed in their volunteer work. When travelers arrive on site, they will be introduced to the volunteer schedule so that they can begin to understand the current needs of their project.  (Note: Spanish school is not required and arrangements can be made for full days of volunteering). Volunteers are free to enjoy the town and surrounding area, study Spanish, engage with the community or simply relax during their free time in the evenings and on weekends.

Fees

At Unearth the World, we pride ourselves on being financially transparent so the volunteer can understand exactly where their money is going.  We have two different types of fees: a one-time application fee and general project fees.

Application Fee – $495 (USD)

This is the only money that goes towards Unearth the World.  This application fee includes the matching of the volunteer candidate with the international program, volunteer education and orientation, an information packet on volunteer program and country of travel, 24/7 support from UTW staff, program marketing costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteer.

General Project Fees – Vary Based on Length of Stay

At this Nicaraguan project, these fees go towards:

  • In the eco-hotel, a simple but comfortable room with private bathroom and solar heated shower. Homestays are with local families, clean and friendly with basic sanitation (homestays are also welcome to use the eco-hotel latrine and shower).
  • All eco-hotel rooms have solar powered lighting and ceiling fans, garden view and access to the terraces and gardens.
  • Three freshly cooked Nicaraguan-style meals per day with locally sourced produce, mostly vegetarian. Travelers staying at a homestay generally eat weekday lunch at the eco-hotel and breakfast/dinner with their families.
  • 20 hours of formal Spanish classes – grammar and conversation. The classes are mostly one-on-one, max three students and are held in small classrooms or on the beautiful grounds.
  • Afternoon and weekend program of fun activities designed to get to know Nicaragua and continue to improve your Spanish. Use of the eco-hotel library (books in Spanish and English), TV/DVD room.
  • Wireless Internet connection.

Fees depend upon when and how long you intend to stay at the project.

High season: December – March, June, July Cost/week Cost/month
Eco-hotel, volunteer work, classes  $520.00  $1,810.00
Eco-cabin, volunteer work, classes  $460.00  $1,540.00
Homestay, volunteer work, classes  $300.00  $1,010.00
Group study center (dorm), volunteer work, classes  $275.00
* Group center for groups from 6-20
Low season: April, May, August – November Cost/week Cost/month
Eco-hotel, volunteer work, classes  $490.00  $1,700.00
Eco-cabin, volunteer work, classes  $440.00  $1,430.00
Homestay, volunteer work, classes  $300.00  $1,010.00
Group study center (dorm), volunteer work, classes  $220.00
* Group center for groups from 6-20

Groups

This project is able to accommodate groups of 6-20 in a dedicated group study center.  The group study center is to be able to offer education on a variety of topics through teaching, seeing, experiencing and reflecting.  Group trips to this project allow for experiential education, cultural immersion and service learning through classes, seminars, discussion groups, films, visits, guided walks, and volunteer work.  If you are interested in traveling with a group, please reach out to Unearth the World for more information.

Educational Themes can include:

  • Cultural / historical
  • Political / social / development issues
  • Social entrepreneurship / business
  • Ecology / environment
  • Education / health
  • Sustainability
  • Nicaragua in the global context
  • Spanish classes
  • Immersion in any / all of the above!

Group Accommodations:

(All the facilities are built using renewable materials)

  • Dormitory accommodation for 20 (two rooms), separate house for escorts (3 double rooms)
  • Local homestays available
  • Dining area / large meeting space
  • Classrooms
  • Areas for studying and relaxing
  • Solar powered electricity
  • Solar heated showers
  • Evening security
  • Home cooked, mostly vegetarian meals
  • Filtered drinking water

Group Costs

High season: December – March, June, July Cost/week
Group study center (dorm), volunteer work, classes  $275.00
Low season: April, May, August – November Cost/week
Group study center (dorm), volunteer work, classes  $220.00

Notes:

  • Optional cost for guided transportation to the airport: 1 person is $40 USD; 2 people is $60 USD; over 3 $70 USD (1 way)
  • If you opt to stay in the eco-hotel, there is a 15% IVA tax (value added tax), which usually adds up to about $5 – $15/week USD.

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