Day 3: Monday, June 11

Today we woke up at 7:30 and went downstairs for breakfast at 8. After eating, we prepared to head to school for the first time. My group had two third-grade classes at Colegio Monte Cristi. Upon arriving, we had a thirty-minute recess where we were greeted by tons of kids who would run up and hug us and take us to play various games with them. After this, we were responsible for teaching two forty-five minute classes. The kids were so energetic and fun! After these classes, we headed back to the Outreach center for lunch.

After eating lunch every day, we are given an hour siesta. However, many people didn’t nap today and instead played cards downstairs. After the siesta, we lesson planned for our next activity: the learning center. The learning center is where the kids voluntarily come to us for extra practice with English. We had extra time after lesson planning, and we went to the park where we played soccer with some of the kids as well as ultimate frisbee. Heading back, we saw some of the kids who would be attending the learning center for the afternoon. We then got ready for them to come inside. Once they did, we individually read to a child for thirty minutes and then broke up into groups for different activities. My group had the level one students who were the least fluent. However, they knew more English than most of the kids from colegio. Following this, we had dinner and are now lesson planning for tomorrow’s school session, and after that, we have free time when we can play cards and go to different stores nearby. –Avery Pierce

We began the day with a delicious meal consisting of cantaloupe, pineapple, cereal, and hard-boiled eggs. Afterwards, we traveled to the school and arrived right before recess began. We were greeted by smiling children who wanted to meet us. We played tag, wall ball, learned hand shakes, and even had a dance battle. After recess, we traveled to our classrooms for the first day of teaching. We learned a lot about teaching, especially lesson planning. Some of our curriculum ideas did not goes as planned, but we were able reorganize our plans between classes. We reflected on what worked and what didn’t during the classes, then came back to the Outreach360 building. For lunch we had beef, beans and rice, and hard-boiled eggs. After lunch, we went to the park and engaged in a game of ultimate ball (like ultimate frisbee). A bench jumped out of nowhere and hit David’s shin, but no serious injury occurred. We came back to our building and prepared for the learning center. This is when 80 children come to our building, and we continue to help them learn English. We began with 30 minutes of reading. In most cases, friends coming tended to stick together in pairs, and the outreach volunteers paired up and read with them. Most books were bilingual, and we would read in Spanish, and they would read in English. There were various levels of English, ranging from 1-4. In our case, Mary had been learning English for 7 years and 3 years at Outreach360. Her mastery of English is near to perfect. Then we divided into different classrooms. Our group worked with level 1. We practiced colors and articles of clothing, which was exactly what we reviewed in the public school earlier that day. We created a lesson plan that consisted of individual teaching and group games. We had a small classroom with 13 teachers and only 6 students. We drew pictures and labeled them, and played a fun game in which the 3 girls and 3 boys were on different teams and raced to the board. We drew articles of clothing on the board, and the children had to race and point to the right article. For dinner, we had lasagna, rice pudding, fried plantains, and hard boiled eggs. Lesson planning and free time followed dinner. Many went to Lilos (the local grocery store) to get juice or to get ice cream. Those same people partook in an impromptu Zumba class while passing through a local park on their trek back to headquarters. This gave everyone a good sense of the culture while learning a few dances in the process. Others stayed back to play cards. We said our roses and thorns of the day as a group, then continued to play cards. The group seems to be clicking well, and we seem to be growing closer every night. Thanks folks. Tune in tomorrow for another riveting recap of our day! –Peyton Hope and David Byler

Day 2: Sunday, June 10–Learning to Teach

Today we woke up to the sounds of the rooster and started off our day with breakfast at 8 am. A group of us got up early to go down to the pier for some exercise. After a delicious breakfast of pan frances and huevos rancheros, we went over the Outreach360 guidelines. By breaking up into different groups for each of the organization’s ten guiding principles, we came up with skits to perform for the greater group and thus understand them.

After learning all the guidelines, we headed out into the city for a tour where we visited local landmarks and learned a bit of the history of Monte Cristi. After working up our appetites on the tour, we sat down for a delicious lunch of chicken, rice, and beans.

Following lunch, we had a siesta where most of us took the time to rest after the busy morning. Next, we started our teaching orientation. We learned the acronym SCRAM: speak slowly, complete sentences, repetition, associate words with actions, and model syntax for them. This will help us to best teach the students English in a fully immersive environment. Then we divided into our separate teaching groups and started lesson planning with our assigned vocabulary for tomorrow, our first day with the kids.

After finishing our curriculum planning, we unpacked our donations and then had free time to explore the city in smaller groups. This gave us the chance to refresh ourselves with fresh tropical juices and ice cream from various shops and purchase our own snacks from the grocery store.

We headed home in time for a few games before dinner where we intermingled with the groups from other schools to get to know each other better. After dinner we changed into nicer clothes and headed to a church service to observe and appreciate the culture. –Straeten Avery


We started off our first full day in Monte Cristi with refreshingly cold navy-style showers and a delicious breakfast of French toast, scrambled eggs with vegetables, cantaloupe, and the best coffee we’ve ever had. We followed that up with “speed friending” ice breakers to get to know the groups from other high schools (Napa and Kent) and overviewed O360’s ten-point mission statement. We spent the majority of the morning hearing from different O360 volunteers on teaching techniques and the history of the program in the DR. After our orientation, our water bottles were filled and we set off for our tour of the town which highlighted all the local landmarks and the highly popular juice and ice cream stands where Mercera was very excited to see us American students. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, chicken, and “hush puppies”. Arguably the most important part of the day, we had an hour for a siesta!

After our hour of relaxation, we had time to create a lesson plan for tomorrow when we will be working in the public school. Each group was assigned an age group from preschool to 3rd grade, and we, once known as students, will become the teachers for the week. Once our lesson planning was complete, we had free time for another hour so most of the group decided to go stroll through the town once again to go to the grocery store, “Lilo’s”, where we had the chance to purchase unique foods from Monte Cristi. We make it back in time to the Outreach360 facility for dinner which comprised of fried eggs, pineapple, plantain, and yaka (no one knows the spelling for that word turns out). Later that night, we had the option to go to a church and see the service. It was very hot in the room, but it was very interesting experience filled with singing and small amounts of dancing. Overall it was a very enjoyable day, and everyone is looking forward to trying out their lesson plans tomorrow at the school. –Cameron Lloyd and Mia Gilley

Day 1: Saturday, June 9–Outreach Bound

We arrived at the airport at 5:00 am, but everyone was really excited for the trip! We left Norfolk around 7:00 and arrived in Miami at 9:00. Ellie and Kate took pictures and videos of everything. We took a long walk to our gate and got lunch before getting on our flight to Santiago, Dominican Republic. Once we got through the long customs line, we hopped onto a bus with all of the Outreach leaders who greeted us with big smiles. They led us safely to the Outreach360 house where we had a big dinner of rice, pasta, and fruit. We then walked to the pier to watch the sunset with all of the Outreach360 volunteers. Then, we walked back and played and games with each other before heading to bed. –Raegan Weis


At approximately 5 am, the group convened at Norfolk International Airport and was filled to the brim with excitement about the trip to the Dominican Republic. After a quick flight to Atlanta, the group had a few hours to kill before the next flight to Santiago. After another quick flight, the group finally landed in the Dominican Republic, enjoying the new experiences/struggles of customs. The final leg of the journey came in the form of a two-hour bus ride. The group overlooked the arduous drive ahead and enjoyed playing games such as contact. When the group finally arrived at the Outreach360 facility, the Outreach leaders greeted the pack with kindness and upmost hospitality. The group settled in, picking beds and Outreach360 shirts. After a delicious dinner of pasta, rice, and eggs, the entire group walked to a pier to watch the sunset. The beautiful view of the mountains and water was the highlight of the day. After returning from our walk, we engaged in multiple card games and conversation in anticipation of our orientation first thing tomorrow morning. All in all, the first day was a huge success. –Neil Malik and Jason Park


Culture Day in Jinotega!

Written by Reid Mason ’18 and Eliza Dixon ’18 to recount Friday, June 16, 2017:

Beginning at our with a breakfast of eggs mixed with tortilla and the usual pinto gallo, we departed at 8:30 for La Cureña, a black pottery co-op. After a quick bus ride we arrived and split into two groups. Each group learned about how the 12 women retrieve the clay and make the black pottery. Then Liza, Greer, and Adavya were able to create a simple plate, guided by two pottery makers. We also enjoyed holding a brightly colored parakeet, especially Ridge, throughout the visit. Everyone had the opportunity to purchase handcrafted items including jewelry, key chains, mugs, and much more. We briefly stopped back at the Outreach360 house before heading to our second destination, Selva Negra. There we enjoyed a delicious homegrown lunch with sweet dessert cakes and coffee. Yes, more and more of us are enjoying Nicaraguan coffee! After the lunch, cake, and coffee, we all piled into a van with our tour guide, Manuel. He took us around the grounds of the organic farm and coffee plantation of Selva Negra. He showed us the coffee beans that would not be ready to harvest until November and then we went up to see the animals on the farm and as we headed back we also got a glimpse of a sloth. We saw cows, baby cows, baby pigs, and even a 450-pound pig! After the tour, we went back to the main building where we had our closing and they played us a slideshow of pictures and videos from the week. Next, we got back on the bus and returned to Jinotega. We packed before our last dinner of chicken and rice, cantaloupe, vegetables, and soda. As we go to town for our last night in Jinotega, we are thankful for our opportunity to have hopefully made an impact on the children we tutored throughout the week. While it was only for 4 days, we feel we have made the most of our time here and embraced the Outreach 360 slogans of “Jump Right In” and “Poco a Poco.” Busy day of travel tomorrow!

Day 4 of English Literacy Camp in Jinotega

Written by Claire Mansoor ’18 and Katie Mele ’18 to recount Thursday, June 15, 2017:

We began our morning at 5:45 with the highly anticipated hike to La Peña de Cruz. We took some amazing pictures on the 1000 steps up and took in the breath-taking views at the cross itself. We arrived back to the house with our legs shaking at 8:00 to eat a breakfast of French toast, hard boiled eggs, and cantaloupe. After rushing to finish breakfast on time, we prepared our supplies for our last day of teaching and headed out the door to the church (camp) for our morning session. With only about 4-5 kids per station, the morning session was manageable as usual. We played games, sang songs, and did activities with the kids until the 2 hours quickly wrapped up. Then we headed home to eat a lunch of mashed potatoes and grilled chicken and headed out to go grab some smoothies and souvenirs. We then walked to our last 2 hours of teaching and tried to savor every last bit of it until 4:00 came around and we said our last goodbyes. At 4:00, we had to rush tables back to the learning center and then come back to the volunteer house so we could walk to Soppexcca, a local coffee shop and co-op, to buy some coffee and take a tour. We learned all about the process of taste testing and rating coffee on various criteria, and even got to try it out ourselves. After a dinner of mac ‘n cheese and toast, we went out one last time and walked around town. We are all looking forward to our culture day tomorrow and are incredibly thankful we had the opportunity to teach such awesome kids! 

Day 3 of English Literacy Camp in Nicaragua

Written by Ridge Moore ’18 and Liza Ware ’18 to recount Wednesday, June 14, 2017:

Waking up to pouring rain and the loud chickens, we decided to sleep in and skip the tabata work-out. We ate a quick breakfast made up of pancakes, eggs, cantaloupe, bananas, and cereal. Before leaving for the church (camp) at around 8:50, we quickly packed our supplies for the day’s activities. Some of the activities consisted of games such as the limbo, a parachute game, Simon says, crossword puzzles, songs and dances. Today’s objectives were to teach the kids insects and daily routines in English. With a much smaller group than the afternoon shift, we went back to the house with slightly more energy. When we arrived at the Outreach 360 house, we ate an early lunch consisting of beef, rice, tostonés, and pitaya starfruit juice. With our stomachs full, we used our siesta time to explore the city of Jinotega. After enjoying some delicious smoothies, we headed back to the house and played cards. The afternoon session was much more energetic with a lot more kids than the morning. Today we were able to take what we learned yesterday and adjust our activities to a successfully handle the larger group of kids. Our delicious dinner consisted of fried eggs, beans, and fresh tortillas. After dinner, we decided to head back to town to get ice cream and cake and enjoyed a short wifi session that was available at the smoothie store. Now we are heading off to an early bed. Tomorrow we rise and shine early to hike to the famous cross (1000 steps) atop one of the beautiful mountains surrounding Jinotega! 

Day Two of Teaching: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Written by Juliette Benedetto ’18 and Athena Michaels ’18 to recount Tuesday, June 13, 2017:

After a semi-restless night for the girls due to the torrential downpour hitting the tin roof along with our new 5 a.m. chicken alarm, a hand full of us still decided to rise at 6:30 am and tackle the challenge of tabata with our leaders, Julia, Bella and Jimmy, along with 2 boys in the NA group, who seemed to have slept soundly and without interruption. We then prepared ourselves for the upcoming day and hurried downstairs to ensure our ability to play a quick game of “connect four” or “spit” before our wonderful breakfast feast. After hearing the bell ring from the kitchen staff, we attentively listened to our leader describe what we were going to eat. Thankfully, French toast and oatmeal were on the menu and everyone hurried to get in line for the food. We then finished our last bites, put away our plates and silverware, and downed any remaining coffee we had in our cups.

We then hit the road and made our way towards the church with our supplies for the day. After setting up the chairs and tables, the kids eagerly piled in and waved down their choices for reading partners. Most of them were familiar faces, however it was nice to see some new kids ready to start their Outreach journey with Norfolk Academy. We circled up and sang the now familiar songs; we even had some of our volunteers lead the chants! Afterwards, the kids had a blast playing creative games such as “wasp, wasp, bee”, coloring in necklaces with insects on them, practicing their spelling, and later enjoying some stickers given out by the volunteers; the stickers seemed to put a bigger smile on their faces than anything. After singing 3 more songs, we set ourselves up for the kids exit: the volunteers either building a bridge for the kids to walk under or blowing bubbles before they finally exit the church.

We then headed back to the Outreach house and sat down for another lesson, this time on history. This seemed to be more interesting than the cultural talk not only because we had a history master in our presence (Coach Acra), but also because we played a game called “lechuga” (like hot potato). If the music stopped and you had the crumbled up paper ball in your had, you had to read out an interesting fact about the country. Finally, we heard the bell ring again, making us rush to our chairs and listened to what was for lunch. Interestingly enough, the menu consisted of food one would find at a Nicaraguan fiesta. We chowed down on our food and afterwards, we spent our remaining free time either at “fruitissimo” (a smoothie place that has now become a hotspot, and not just because of the wifi) or “Veronica’s cafe” (the “Starbucks” of Jinotega). We raced back the house to reapply our new best friend, bug spray, and fill up our water bottles to the top.

The afternoon session presented itself with a challenge- 52 kids instead of our almost 20 children in the morning. Although, each group worked hard to ensure the afternoon children would learn to the extent the of the morning children. After changing a couple of things, including the handing out of stickers to avoid bloodshed, each group found themselves more engaged and met their certain tasks at hand. We then gave these children then same exit as the morning group and headed back to our Nicaraguan “home”.

After our hour of free time, we were introduced to our Latin dance teacher, Ernesto. I do not think any of us will be able to erase the image of Coach Acra popping and locking to the upbeat Spanish music. After the insane amount of sweat the group worked up in the 30 minute class, we eagerly waited for the 3rd and last bell ring of the day. At a little before 6 pm, we took our seats and waited to answer the trivia question of the night (answering correctly meant that one’s “team” would be first in line for dinner). The meal of homemade quesadillas (even the tortilla was put together from scratch) and our new staple, plantains, gave us the energy to create our lesson plans for the next day and later, venture back out into town.

Group with Ernesto!

As each day goes by, the group seems to get closer and closer, allowing everyone to break out of their shell and make new friends. We no longer sit boys on one side and girls on the other or only talk to people whom we hang out with at home. We cannot wait to see how our review day goes tomorrow and experience the opportunity that Outreach 360 has given us. ¡Hasta Luego!


Monday: First Day of Teaching

Written by Cross Birdsong ’18 & Adavya Dhawan ’18 to recount Monday, June 12, 2017:

NA teaching team outside the Outreach360 Learning Center in Jinotega.

We began our morning at 6:30 with tired legs and sore arms from a tabata (high intensity) workout. After freshening up, we ate some delicious eggs, tortillas, and our new favorite, beans and rice, for breakfast. Right after, we were off to teach our first session of English at the local church. While some groups played games like Twister and Jenga, others enjoyed drawing and Simon Says. To wrap up the morning, we all “went bananas” in our favorite camp song. Tired but satisfied, we headed home for a lunch of pollo frito, and of course, no meal could be complete without beans and rice. Well-fed and rested after the midday siesta, we headed back to the church to teach our second session of the day. With more students, we needed to bring a lot more energy, and we did. To celebrate, the group went out for some smoothies, before getting back to work for the next day’s lesson planning. All in all, it was a “Que twani” (Nica term for cool) day.

Sunday: Orientation, Tour of Jinotega, Church Service…and Mariachi?

Written by Greer Gill ’18 to recount Sunday, June 11, 2017:

Group picture outside of Outreach360 house in Jinotega.

This morning we woke up to the sounds of chickens and roosters communicating (loudly) outside our window. We then devoured a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and plantains, followed by a fun ice breaker game with the whole group. After this game, we started out for our city tour. We explored the Germán neighborhood, where we got to see

Touring Jinotega.

where some of our students live. We traveled through the city streets visiting various shops, restaurants, and the Jinotega city park. With tired legs, we returned to our house to eat a yummy lunch of white rice, pulled chicken, and our staple… beans. After tricking the Acras into taking us to free wifi in the park (no worries, the Acras cut us off after 5 minutes), we returned to plan lessons for our first day of teaching on Monday. We then ate an early dinner at 5:00 so we could venture back into the city to attend Sunday night mass. Following church, we treated ourselves to cake and made friends with a local mariachi band. To end the night, we played multiple rounds of the game “Mafia” where Greer killed everyone and Liza saved herself countless times. We head to bed excited about our first day of teaching tomorrow! 

Jinotega City Park

Lesson planning for the week

Mariachi band on the streets of Jinotega!

Touch down in Nicaragua!

Written by Mackenzi Mills ’18 to recount Saturday, June 10:

We began our day bright and early at 4:50 am at the Norfolk Airport. Our travel day went fairly smooth with only a couple of things temporarily lost (GoPro, suitcase, customs form, etc.), but later found. Although it was nothing we couldn’t handle! We made it through Nicaraguan Customs and found our Outreach 360 leaders and a bright blue bus waiting for us. We grabbed some lunch and set off in the rain on our 3 hour and incredibly scenic bus ride to Jinotega. The cloud-masked mountains were breathtaking. When we arrived at the Outreach 360 house we began with orientation and some guidelines. We sorted our donations, played cards, and finished the night with a satisfying dinner. To all of our surprises including Mr. Acra’s, we had birthday cake for desert. His birthday is in October, and was not actually today. But the cake was a great way to end the night! We are planning to get a good rest tonight so that we can enjoy our jam-packed day tomorrow.