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. 

Outreach360 Program 2015 – An Overview

Outreach360 Service-Learning Program in the Dominican Republic: June 2015

June 5th, 2015

Hello everyone!  Tomorrow is our big day. Internet access might be hit or miss, though hopefully each day one of us will contribute a fun little post on the blog here. Check back in later to see how things are going!

Dr. Manion


June 6th, 2015

We began our adventure today with fuel pump troubles in Newark.



June 8th, 2015

Today was the first day of teaching the kids at The Learning Center. We started out the day with a run to the beach where we looked out to a huge mountain and clear water. None of us reallly knew what to expect going into the day; however, we prepared a ton of lesson plans just in case we ran into problems as the day progressed. With my Spanish skills being slightly sub par, I worried about communicating with the children. Hot, sweaty, and tired, it was a challenge to imageget these children to be engaged and to teach them English with minimal Spanish talent. Very early in the second of the activities this morning, I noticed one of the brightest and happiest children I have ever seen, Natielly. Natielly was in a group with a bunch of girls who were slightly older but she stood out the most. As Manette, Ella, Catherine and I struggled to come up with more dance moves or more English tunes, Natielly came to the rescue. Shaking her tambourine, Natielly busted out in song and dance with all of the English songs she had learned throughout her time at Outreach. On this trip, I sort of thought I would be “helping” these children, but I learned very early on we are “serving” them. I believed I would be helping these children with leadership, but in reality children like Natielly have helped me.

Following camp time, we returned home and stopped on the way for some local melon juice. Everyone here is super fun and friendly. We later went to the park and immediately kids came to play basketball and soccer. The coolest part about this program is the “Adelantes”. “Adelantes” or forwards, are students who have graduated from the Outreach Program recently. They come back to help students who are in the position that they once were in. One of the Adelantes, Aidil had been at church singing on Sunday night. Although I am by no means a good singer, she needed help with an English song and I knew the song from my Christmas Pagaent days. I developed a closer relationship with Aidil today and it was cool to interact with someone my age from a different culture. The guys also loved one of the Adelantes, Donald. Despite the few struggles with the  kids, I think we are all getting the hang of it and I’m sure the rest of the week will be even better.

Grace Marshall, NA ’16


June 9th, 2015

Hello American Fams,

While we are having a wonderful time in beautiful Monte Cristi, we are having trouble with accessing the internet and finding time to blog in our busy days. Today was a blast! It was so exciting to return for our second day at camp and reunite with the campers from yesterday. They were ready to jump right in and they communicated the love with plenty of smiles and hugs. We are starting to really realize that this is it and we have to make the most of the little time we have left. Two days have never passed so quickly for me! I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure we smell horrible so prepare yourselves for some beat stench when we come home. Lights out time is fast approaching but I wanted to let you know that we are alive and well, enjoying this wonderful town and the people who live here.