March 1

Pour la sixième journée de notre voyage, nous avons eu le plaisir d’aller voir un volcan actif! Nous sommes allées en fin de journée, donc nous avons vu le couché de soleil. Honnêtement, c’était le plus beau couché que j’ai vue de ma vie : les rayons du soleil reflétaient sur la fumée qui sortait du volcan. Les nuages de boucanes était tout rouges, oranges et roses. Voir un volcan actif était vraiment une expérience plaisante et inoubliable, puisque ce n’est pas quelque chose qu’on peut voir n’importe où et n’importe quand. La lave du volcan était orange fluo et c’était vraiment épeurant pour moi parce que j’avais l’impression de frôler la mort, même si on était quand même loin du cratère. Je suis excitée pour la journée de demain, même si c’est la dernière journée que nous allons passer à l’école.

Élodie Petrecca


Today was the day that we brought in the 20 pairs of self-adjustable glasses to school. It was tough because when I walked into the room, sitting in front of me were some of our newly made friends. It never even crossed my mind that these smiley, happy new friends of ours could be part of the group that needed our help the most. We sat down and adjusted their glasses one by one, and suddenly one of the kids began to cry. When I asked her why, she said that her eyes weren’t used to it. I told her that her eyes would adjust, and she just looked up at me and said thank you. Sitting with these kids, laughing about how I too could not see when I took off my glasses left me with this feeling of wanting to do more. There is so much left to do to help and I am looking forward trying to find new ways to help our friends from the Diria Institute.

Vivian Maas


Today was so much fun! Every single day that we are here, we are learning so much. This morning we walked part of the path that Estefania takes every day to get to school. It was out in the country and there were so many animals that had protruding ribs and hip bones. The path was dirty and rundown. Our buddies accompanied us and we were able to really bond with them. Looking at where Estefania lives and finding out she only sleeps 3 hours a night shocked me. It saddened me but it inspired me for she is so strong and perseverant. I hope she goes on to change many lives. We then returned to the school and taught a class. This class ran the smoothest since one of the students was able to understand our broken Spanish. As much as we have been teaching them, they have been teaching us. The kids here are just like us! We have been bonding during breaks with all the students. Today was the day that the students received their self-adjustable glasses. I was privileged to see the look of complete joy and gratitude on their faces when the words that were blurry went clear. Today left me with a feeling that we have done so much and yet so little. There is so much more we all can do. I hope that this project continues for many years to come and changes so many more lives.

Carolanne Carr


After two non-teaching days, I was finally able to get back into the classroom to share my love of science with students.  The only difference was that today, the students were four science teachers from schools in the area – one from the Anne Frank School, one from a different school and two from the Diria Institute.  My goal was to show the teachers that it is possible to have content-based experiments that make use of readily available, inexpensive materials.  Never one to give answers, I had my “students” carry out the experiments and then we discussed ways to alter the experiments based on grade level.  We finished up the session working on circuits.  As in any classroom, some of the students jumped right in and worked out how to set the circuits up, while other students were more timid and had to be encouraged to just “play”.  By the time we finished the session up, the teachers felt more confident with their circuit building abilities and they didn’t want the science sharing session to end.  I have promised to go over DNA extraction from bananas and different reaction rate experiments with the two Diria Institute teachers tomorrow morning before classes start.  Our time here has flown by and while we have accomplished a lot there is still so much I want to share with my Nicaraguan colleagues.   I guess it will have to wait until the next trip in 2020!

Sarah Howard


Ms, Howard giving PD.
Sandra with a new friend.
A new pair of glasses.
Vivian fitting self adjusting glasses to students in need.
Vivian fitting self adjusting glasses to students in need.
Chloe giving CPR PD to the teachers.
The group with Estefania.
Ms. Howard with Estefania’s family.
Estefania, giving a heartfelt speech.
Estefania’s little sister,
The walk up to Estefania’s house.
The walk up to Estefania’s house.
At the Masaya volcano
At the Masaya volcano
At the Masaya volcano
At the Masaya volcano
At the Masaya volcano
At the Masaya volcano

February 28

Today we had our work experience afternoon. Almost all of the kids who go to the Diria Institute go to school for half the day and then work for the other half. After lunch, we went around the village and visited some of the homes to see the what they did and what their living conditions were. The family made clothes for the people in the village, uniforms for the kids at the school, and traditional dresses for the folkloric dancing. Walking around and seeing a day in the lives of these kids was incredibly enlightening. When we are at school with the students, we get to see their carefree side, but going into these workshops, I really noticed that even though they were in their homes, it also meant they were at work and were therefor treated like adults and expected to produce. This reality was grounding because I really got to see the juxtaposition between our lives as kids in Canada and the lives of these kids here.

Marcella Maria Da Silva


Today we visited more of our scholarship winners, and honestly today really hit home. I am sponsoring a student named Valeria (she’s studying medicine), and today was the day where we finally got to go visit her. I never thought it would be as hard as it was to go in to her house, and stand there trying to keep myself composed. We couldn’t even all stand in her house. She started to thank all of us from the bottom of her heart and then began to thank me. She said how grateful she is that I am supporting her and finding space in my heart to put her through university (as she could not have gone without the scholarship). This was when I realized that I cannot even find the words to express how complex all this feels. Valeria works incredibly hard and I cannot wait for the day we can call her “Doctor”. She deserves it and so much more. I am so grateful that I am connected to Valeria and have been able to have such a big impact in her life, as she has had on mine.

Jamie Shore


Aujourd’hui, pour la sixième journée du voyage, on a passé tout le matin avec les étudiants de l’école. On s’est reveillée une demi-heure plus tard que d’habitude, et on a quitté l’hôtel vers 8h30. Autour de 9h00, on est arrivé à l’école et on a joué des jeux avec nos « buddies » et quelques-uns des garçons de l’école. Avec l’aide des filles de l’école, nous avons mis les robes typiques du Nicaragua. La mienne était blanche avec des lignes roses au bas, elle était tellement belle, j’en voulais une pour pouvoir la rapporter à la maison. La professeure de danse de l’école était en charge de nous montrer la danse et on a fait trois danses différentes. De ces trois danses, nous allons choisir notre préférée, et là présenter en avant de l’école vendredi. On a aussi pratiqué notre danse québecoise avec nos « buddies ». C’était une journée très amusante et je ne vais jamais oublier cette expérience.

Justine Henrichon-Goulet

Playing sports.
Playing sports
Playing sports
Playing sports
A math class that was using the calculators that we purchased.
A math class that was using the calculators that we purchased.
A math class that was using the calculators that we purchased.
Teaching Spanish grammar with iPads, a projector, a rachel and kahoot.
Teaching Spanish grammar with iPads, a projector, a rachel and kahoot.
Getting the right answer on Kahoot.
Getting the wrong answer.
A t-shirt, pen and pencil was given out to each student of the Diria Institute.
A t-shirt, pen and pencil was given out to each student of the Diria Institute
A t-shirt, pen and pencil was given out to each student of the Diria Institute

Trying on a brand new pair of shoes. 85 shoes were bought that day.
Getting a brand new pair of shoes.
Getting a brand new pair of shoes.
Getting a brand new pair of shoes.
Practicing traditional dances.

PD with the teachers.
Measuring the foot of a grade 1 student who could not go to school because she did not have a pair of shoes.
Visiting the homes of the students who must work and go to school.
Visiting the homes of the students who must work and go to school.
Visiting the homes of the students who must work and go to school.
Visiting the homes of the students who must work and go to school.
Visiting the home of our 2017 scholarship winner, Belkis.
Visiting the home of our 2017 scholarship winner, Valeria.


February 27

Today we went back to the school and had our first full teaching day. In the morning, we played a some fun relay games with the grade seven girls before going into our classes. After the last class we really started to get to know one another. We taught them a few of our games and they taught us some of theirs. It was such an amazing experience because we got a chance to interact with one another on a different level outside of the classroom. We all had so much fun playing around, laughing and taking pictures, it felt as if we had known them for much longer than just 2 days. It was a great feeling knowing they were all so eager and excited to spend time with us and I can’t wait to go back again tomorrow!

Lauren McKenzie


My favourite moment of the day was during our second class. My teaching group was teaching 9B, and the class was coming to an end. To pass the time, and in order to keep engaging the class, we decided to play “Un éléphant”, which is a french hand-game. As we kept repeating the song, and as more people got eliminated, the class kept getting more excited, waiting to see who was going to win. Two of the girls in the class came over to Vivian and I, and asked what the song was about. Vivian started to explain what the song was about, an elephant swinging on a spiderweb. Suddenly, the entire class’ faces lit up, because they knew exactly what song that we were talking about. They had the exact same song in Spanish, but with a different tune and a different goal. Instead of ending with the elimination of one of the players, their song is never ending. It was my favourite moment of the day because of the reaction of the students, and because of the connection we made through a simple hand-game song. It amazes me how easily you can connect to people, despite a language barrier. I look forward to teaching more of the kids at the Diria Institute, and getting to know as many of the students as possible.

Chloé Monty


Today, we visited Iveth’s home. Iveth is one of the two scholarship winners of 2018. Iveth, her parents and adorable little cousin welcomed us into their home. Her mother started by explaining that she had to move from Diria to Costa Rica in order to work as a maid to gain a higher income. There, she met her husband and had Iveth. In Costa Rica, her father was diagnosed with kidney failure and had to have a transplant. He can no longer work and has to take 15 pills a day for the rest of his life. When we asked Iveth what winning the scholarship meant for her, she explained that she wants to be able to financially support her parents so, that her mother doesn’t have to work so hard. Iveth has had her eye on the scholarship ever since she entered the Institute in Grade 7. It’s amazing to have been apart of the fulfilment of her first of many goals. Her story is extremely motivational and has really allowed me to realize the importance of the scholarship. I am so grateful that I am able to see first hand how the scholarship can transform her life and the life of her family.

Chloe Malikotsis

Playing sports at The Diria Institute
Playing sports at the Diria Institute
Relay races
The painter who painted all the murals in the classrooms
Lunch at the home of Dr. Perez’ parents.





Teaching a class

The group with Iveth (our 2018 scholarship winner)
The group with Ashley (our 2018 scholarship winner)

February 26

Today we had our first day at the Diria National Institute teaching the students. It was an interesting day, because the kids there didn’t know any English at all, and we didn’t know very much Spanish. There was a lot of miming to get our points across. It was interesting to see how different their school life is from ours. Their classes all ended when the lesson was finished (around an hour), instead of an exact time like The Study. Although it was extremely nerve wracking to be teaching them, it was also very fun. They were extremely enthusiastic, and very forgiving about our jumble of Spanish. We ended up having a very fun class.  All in all, it was an amazing experience.

Isabel MacDonald-Palmer


Today was the best day yet in my opinion. First, I was mesmerized by the beautiful dresses the girls wore for the traditional Nicaraguan dances they presented during the assembly. We asked them later (in Spanish!) and it takes them about 45 minutes to do their hair & makeup for those dances. Then after lunch at the Perez’s, we taught our lessons at the Diria National Institute. I was so nervous about this day as a general and specifically to start teaching but I had no reason to be. Our teaching group started with two ice-breaker games (POW & Ninja) which they really enjoyed. We then started with Emily’s lesson which was on jobs and they were so much better at English than I had expected. My buddy’s favourite class in school is actually English and she even takes extra lessons outside of school. After today I realized how much laughing together with people you just met breaks the ice and brings you closer even without necessarily talking.

Lily Magny


I woke up this morning nervous to meet the students at the Diria Institute. I feared that the language barrier would be an unsurmountable obstacle. However, I was quickly proven wrong upon meeting everyone. My buddy was kind and made an effort to adapt to my ability to speak Spanish. We managed to have an entire conversation with hand gestures and broken sentences. Teaching our first class was a rollercoaster of emotions. We entered the classroom in a bundle of nerves and awkwardly stood in front of the class while fourteen pairs of eyes analyzed us. We started the class by playing POW as an ice breaker game and everyone got really involved in playing. Laughter filled the room as students approached the white board to attempt answering questions in english about colours in my teaching group’s interpretation of jeopardy. I was surprised at how interested and involved the students were in our lesson and I was shocked at how much I learned about each individual student and their personalities in an hour, despite the fact that we did not speak the same language.

Camille Poulin


Throughout our first four days in Nicaragua, I was able to experience a culture and lifestyle that was so rich and amazing to observe. One of the things that struck me the most was the sense of community instilled within the population. Everyone is smiling and laughing and has so much kindness towards each other. They are all so grateful for what they have and are so proud of everything they do. Many locals lucky enough to have a job are so passionate about what they do and are so happy to teach us about their trade. The entire population has an enormous respect for one another and for their families and that struck me since it is very different than the community life we experience in Montreal. However, contrary to how we live, they do not have as much as we do, yet they still manage to live fulfilled and happy lives. This has inspired me to be more appreciative of what we have and to embrace every moment.

Michaela Capolicchio


For almost two years, through pictures, Powerpoints and video presentations narrated by Ms. Liogas, I’ve heard about this incredible Nicaragua project of ours and naïvely thought I knew what to expect on this journey but boy, was I ever wrong! What doesn’t translate through the projector is the sensory overload one feels when at The Diria Institute. When walking off the bus, the first thing that hits you is the immediate attention we’re given from all the students. It was recess when we arrived and the students filed into the main square where we were going to present the donations. They were trying to catch a glimpse of the new group of Study Students. There is the constant smell of smoke from patches along the road of wood cinders or burned garbage. The tin roof above omits intense heat but is in such a bright, open area that it allows for the wind to provide us with some relief. For myself, I felt my heart tugged in all different directions. One minute the little girl from the church service the day before runs over to give us a hug and to say how happy she is to see us at her school, and that she’s been waiting for us for months, the next minute we’re walking into a scholarship winner’s home and seeing a level of poverty none of us were able to imagine. The floor was packed dirt. Just to get to it we had to walk through what seemed like a hallway in a house of tin cards. This path lead us to a small open area, half covered by a patched tin roof, and a few walls. This teenage girl shares a sleeping space about the size of a double bed with her 4 brothers. The actual “bed” was more like mismatched pieces of soiled mattress and covers patched onto some wooden pallets. One of the sweetest and saddest parts was bringing in the bag of groceries to her family. Her 5 year old brother, the same age as my son, almost immediately began taking out all of the groceries and laying them out on the rusted tin sheet they use as a counter. He must have been so hungry to have done this, and what’s even harder to process is the wafting smell of fresh bread from the bread factory nearby. How difficult it must be not only for that little boy, but for all of them to have to smell the baking without ever having the means to purchase it. This is what drives this project. Groceries are such a short term help. The hope that with an education, this young girl can raise up her family from the depths of poverty it is in now. I get it now, Ms. Liogas.

Jennifer Rosenbaum


The Opening Assembly at the Diria Institute
Vivian giving a speech on behalf of the students of The Study
Our 2018 scholarship winners.
Cultural dances performed by the students of the Diria Institute























First day of teaching





Candelaria: our 2016 scholarship recipient.
Candelaria’s brother.
Candelaria’s other brother.
The group with Candelaria.
Ethel: Our 2016 scholarship recipient
The group with Ethel.


And finally, a sign in the restaurant we saw at dinner.