Thursday, March 3

Sports. Students had the opportunity to play a variety of sports with their buddies.


We met our buddies in the agora. They were all wearing their “Girls for the Cure” t-shirts that The Study donated to all the Diria Institute students, whereas we were decked out in “sports clothes” and were preparing to sweat. A lot. We quickly but excitedly greeted our buddies, before forming a circle to receive instructions from Arturo, the physical education and music teacher at the institute and the organizer of the buddy program. We started out by warming up: jumping jacks, stretching, and a light jog. Arturo then split us into four different teams, two from The Study and two from the Institute, and each team lined up behind a different cone. As soon as he held up a baton we realized what our first activity was… A relay race! The Study was determined to make up for our struggles in matching our buddies’ skills during volleyball yesterday. We succeeded by winning first and second places in the first relay race, but were beaten by one of the Diria teams in the second relay.

After the exhilarating but draining relay races, we moved on to our next activity. We headed to the multipurpose sports court for a game of soccer. As a soccer player, I was extremely enthusiastic and volunteered as one of the five players for my team. I was joined on the field by Layla, both Emmas, Julia, and the five buddies who were playing against us. After an amusing game, (with an incredible goal by Emma D.) the sports activities were sadly over.

I think I can speak for all the girls when I say that we enjoyed this fun way to kick off our sixth day in Nicaragua. More importantly though, we spent quality time with our buddies and experienced an activity that occurred without a need for languages, and therefore without a language barrier.








Shoe Distribution. 79 students from the Diria Institute were given brand new shoes.


On jouait aux sports quand Ms. Liogas nous a dit d’aller voir la distribution de chaussures dans une des salles de classe. J’avais tellement hâte de voir leurs réactions. On les voyait enlever leurs chaussures usées et essayer des paires toutes neuves et à leur taille. Il y avait un petit garçon qui, les autres journées, était très timide, et quand je lui est donné un grand sourire, il en a retourné un plus chaleureux. L’école a choisi 79 enfants, parmi les plus pauvres, pour recevoir une paire de chaussures qui coutaient 13.50$ chaque et allaient durer des années. Ce qui m’a frappé le plus c’était que certains de nos amis de l’Institut (et même ma « buddy ») faisaient partis des élèves choisis. Même si les étudiants ne nous ont pas verbalement remercié, ils l’ont fait avec leurs yeux et leurs sourires.








Today was a great picture day. Photography has been a passion for me because of its ability to capturing the beauty of one’s personal point of view, and its way of manifesting an emotion, and telling a story without saying a word. I decided to bring my Polaroid camera on this trip because I thought that these 10 days would make for a great story worth telling, a story worth giving. While playing a ball game with our buddies, I could see the young juniors roll into a room that had 79 brand new pairs of leather shoes waiting to be fitted to a fresh-faced child’s feet. We were given a break from our relay game with our buddies so I grabbed my camera and entered the room anxiously, wondering what I was walking in to. I saw seventh graders who I’d taught only days ago; they were laughing, some teary eyed, they were so happy. “Thanks you’s” filled the room, and their smiles were so full of genuine joy. I’m trying my best to describe the feeling of being a part of this particular moment, but I’m lacking words that are worthy to express the emotion in that room today. When words fail, a photo holds a thousand words. This photo is a candid I took of Candeleria, a scholarship winner’s brother standing proudly in his pair of brand new shoes. It is the best picture I have ever taken. I saw a lot of pure happiness in that room and in that boy, and that is what made for a great picture day.




Mentos Science Experiment with Ms. Howard






Work Experience. Students have the opportunity to see how students at the Diria Institute make a living.


Thursday was a day that most of us had been looking forward to. In the morning we played a friendly game of soccer against our buddies, and in the afternoon we were given the incredible opportunity to experience the work that some of the students at the Institute must do every morning in order to provide for their families. After having gone to visit the pottery workshop (at which we recognized a few students from the Institute) and the bakery, we made our way to the rosquilla bakery which – in Ms. Liogas’ words– was like a the St. Viateur in Montreal but with no ventilation. Not only were we graciously welcomed into the bakery, we were also shown the ingredients used to make this delicious snack and shown how it was given its beautiful shape. However, there was one moment from this visit that really stuck with me. An old man with a proud smile on his face was enjoying our visit – he had just been given a polaroid picture and said he would keep it preciously. This man’s name was Julios and he was 88 years old. Despite his old age, he still managed to give us some advice, asking us whether or not we knew the native language, at which he added that knowledge of the language would help us better appreciate the culture. At this moment I understood that one of the most important aspects of this trip is to meet new people and listen to their stories, because only then can we understand how much we have in common with these people, and unveil some of the most precious secrets of Nicaragua, which lie with their people.



L’atelier de poterie

Leurs doigts habiles transforment la terre et lui donne un sens. La glaise glisse sous leur savoir et leurs yeux attentifs. Poissons, fleurs, oiseaux… Une nature colorée fleurie entre les quatre murs sombres et déteints. Nous quittons cet endroit magique, rempli de poésie et de créativité, éblouies par le sourire des artisans et artisanes fiers d’avoir partager leurs connaissances avec nous.

Les boulangeries

Une odeur de pain chaud nous attire devant la porte de la petite maison. Les mains des hommes, dans la première boulangerie, sont vives et rapides du à la répétition de la tâche et semblent mener la danse. La pâte étirée, pétrie, mise en boule, lie les esprits et les gestes dans le labeur. Les femmes de la deuxième boulangerie roulent la pâte épaisse au sucre et au mais en forme d’escargot. La chaleur du feu rend l’atmosphère agréable et chaleureuse comme un feu de cheminée. Certains des « artisans » sont des parentés de nos amis de l’Institut. Face à leur réalité, nous restons bouche bée par les nombres, les conditions et la sueur. Tout ce travail pour si peu de revenu… Nous avons acheté dix pains au beurre pour le conducteur du bus et le professeur de sport et de musique qui nous ont accompagné tous deux durant la plupart des étapes de notre magnifique voyage.












Anne Frank. We paid a quick visit to the Anne Frank School where we distributed much needed supplies.





Eye Glass Distribution. 20 Students were chosen to receive a pair of self adjusting eye glasses.


« I didn’t know that reading wasn’t supposed to hurt. »

This is what a boy told me as he adjusted his new glasses after 16 years of painful squinting. This afternoon I had the chance to help distribute glasses to 20 students at the Diriá Institute. As I was explaining how to adjust the Adlens glasses, many of the students in the room, who had been identified as students with impaired vision, were reluctant to even try on them on. They kept repeating that they could see just fine, and that they were constantly rubbing their eyes because they probably had some dust in their eyes. It was clear that that wasn’t the case because every single one of the students’ facial expressions changed drastically when they put the glasses on. They were surprised and excited instead of frustrated and squinting.

The feeling of improving 20 people’s ability to see is a good one.





The first of the many things we noticed upon our arrival at the Diria Institute were the murals all over the walls. Most of them symbolize our friendship and relationship with the school. Some are of the Canadian flag, some are of our school crest, some are of the school flower the trillium, and some are of the flora and fauna in Nicaragua. Of course, one would have to wonder, who paints all of these gorgeous paintings? Well, during the week, we discovered a boy named Pedro. You wouldn’t notice him at first since he’s one of the quieter students, but he’s definitely no less important. We found him alone one day in a classroom painting a picture of a famous poet. Now this was no beginner painter’s work. It looked absolutely professional with perfect shading and clean lines everywhere. When we asked him what else he was going to paint, he showed us the beginning of a sketch he did, which included the school crest, our country’s flag and the Nicaraguan flag. As the week went on we got to see the remarkable progression of his work. His skill originated from his father whom we learned was a painter, but the talent was all Pedro’s.




Speaking with two Peace Corps volunteers.



And of course, more dancing.


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