Kate is an experienced international traveler so she was a bit surprised by how much Nicaragua “blew me away.”
And dazzled by Granada, the historic colonial town where ELI placed her as a preschool teacher ‘s aide and English teacher to kids age 8-14. When she wasn’t working, Kate explored this lovely small city, photographing its colorful buildings and beautiful, often ornate, doorways.
Granada, a magnet for tourists from all over the world, proved to be an ideal base for a single woman traveler.
“In Granada, I met a lot of people who’d been all over the world, and all of them raved about the city, how pretty and welcoming it is, and how safe you feel there.”
She was touched by the warmth of the local people, who always took time to talk to her.
“They are incredibly friendly. Everywhere I’d go they’d say hello and ask me if I was doing OK. I really didn’t expect so much attention and thoughtfulness.”
ELI arranged a private room for Kate in a hostel that’s “literally three doors down from the school.”
She felt very much a part of the community, in town and at work. Kate, who has a master’s degree in education and a background of teaching in Japan, was fascinated to compare the different education styles she’d come across in the U.S and Asia.
“Working with Nicaraguan preschoolers was, I have to say, pretty cute. They’re sweet and rambunctious, but very well behaved when they have to be.”
Kate was impressed when even the preschoolers were given tracing paper to practice their cursive writing.
“These kids are really eager to learn,” she observes.
That included the older ones who, once they got over their shyness, proved good at basic conversation in English.
“Part of the challenge for volunteer teachers is to gain the students’ trust and openness. When you have that, you can really make an impact and teach them a lot of English, even if you’re there for only a few weeks. It can be very satisfying.”
Kate’s back at her own school now, an international language school in Southern California, where she works in administration. But Granada is not far from her thoughts.
“I’m definitely going back,” she says. “And next time, I want to explore the entire country, all of it.”
Take it from Kate, veteran world traveler: Nicaragua is special.
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