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Class Takes Students to Nicaragua

Notre Dame College will offer a two-credit class next semester that will include a unique international travel and learning experience. The BU 392 International Immersion course will take up to 10 students to explore the developing country of Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The students will join the Cleveland nonprofit International Partners in Mission (IPM) on a week-long immersion experience from March 2 to 10, 2013.

While on the trip, they will visit IPM’s project partners and learn how local groups are working to promote justice, peace and hope for children, women and youth through entrepreneurship, education and employment efforts. They will also meet with the Sisters of Notre Dame, who will share their work of reaching out to the poor and marginalized by addressing issues of oppression, violence and injustice. 

“The purpose of this course is to help students develop a better understanding of how people live and work in developing countries,” says Assistant Professor of Marketing Bill Leamon, who conceptualized the class. “The students will become aware of the challenges marginalized citizens face around the world and thus become more responsible global citizens.”

Leamon says the course is an extension of the College’s mission to educate students for personal, professional and global responsibility, and therefore not only intended for business majors.

“Students who have studied Spanish, have been involved in campus ministry, or are seeking a meaningful and potentially life-changing travel experience might also find the course worthwhile,” he says. 

Leamon, along with Assistant Professor of International Business Steve Hotchkiss, who has traveled extensively throughout Nicaragua and Central America, will teach the course Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. In preparation for the trip, Hotchkiss and guest speakers will cover Nicaragua’s geography, history, culture and current events. Following the tip, Leamon will work with students to write reflection papers and give presentations to share their travel experiences with others at the College.

Those experiences promise to be enlightening as the itinerary is filled with many eye-opening and exciting events.

Upon arriving, the students will tour the capital city of Managua and meet journalist Judy Butler, who has lived in Nicaragua for almost 30 years and will address the history and current situation of the country.

The students will also climb Masaya Volcano, one of Nicaragua’s 23 volcanoes, and have a chance to look into its crater. They will also take a boat tour through “Las Isletas,” small islands formed by a volcanic eruption hundreds of years ago on Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest lakes in Central America.

At the heart of the trip, however, are visits to IPM’s project partners and the Sisters of Notre Dame.

CEPROSI
NDC students will learn how IPM's projects help the youth of Nicaragua.

The Sisters have a mission in Jinotega in the mountainous coffee growing region of Nicaragua, where they work with local schools to offer youth-orientated programs. They also work with local women on micro-enterprise income-generating activities like jewelry making.

IPM’s focus is also on women and youth. Its Mujer y Comunidad project provides accessible healthcare to the people of San Francisco Libre, which includes some 30 communities, whose members often rely on fishing or farming for survival.

Access to the formal healthcare system is extremely limited there, domestic violence is a significant problem, many children suffer from inadequate nutrition, and there are limited opportunities for formal education beyond primary school. Mujer y Comunidad offers a number of services to address these problems.

The next IPM project the students will visit is the Teen Night School in Managua. The school provides secondary education to teenagers who work during the day to support their families. It is located in one of the poorest areas of the city, where the crime rate is high and economic opportunities are few. Many teenagers work in the informal market, often selling food and washing car windshields.

The curriculum at the Teen Night School condenses a six-year secondary education into three one-year terms and offers evening classes so that the students can still work to support their families. The school plays a vital role in the community, as education is one of the most effective ways to end poverty.

Finally, the NDC students will visit IPM’s Center for the Promotion of Holistic Health (CEPROSI) in Nindiri. The organization works with women to improve the nutrition and health of the community and to develop sustainable economic opportunities.

CEPROSI staff and beneficiaries use natural medicines and nutritional education to help the community be proactive in taking care of their health. Women involved in the project also produce natural products to sell in the wider market, in natural pharmacies in local villages, and eventually on a national scale. This production allows the women to earn a sustainable income while at the same time improving the quality of life for members of their community.

If all of these experiences sound intriguing to you, come to one of two informational meetings in the Falcon Café at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 29.

Students taking the course are required to pay a course fee of $1,500. They must register with a non-refundable $500 deposit by no later than Nov. 15.

For more information, contact Bill Leamon, assistant professor of marketing, at wleamon@ndc.edu or 440.503.3126.