La Esperanza Granada
La Esperanza Granada is seeking volunteers to take on roles as Kindergarten Assistants at village schools in Nicaragua. Kindergarten assistants will work with preschool-aged...
La Esperanza Granada is always looking for more volunteers to teach English. Volunteers can teach English to primary school students in grades 4, 5, and 6. Volunteers
Submitted by nicavolunteer | October 26, 2015
One of the best parts of La Esperanza is how quickly they respond to your emails and your interest in serving. The office is very eager to provide information and to make sure volunteers are continually able to serve in the program.
Another great part is the range of places that volunteers come from. I worked with volunteers from North America, Europe, Asia. It was a very fulfilling part of the experience to meet and enjoy time with people of all different ages and backgrounds.
Granada is a colorful, colonial city with lots of restaurant choices and opportunities to enjoy local flavors from street food vendors to fruits and vegetables in the busy outdoor mercado.
My recommendations would be to stay as long as possible because the children in the schools connect to the volunteers and you will find that you are able to make a bigger impact if you can dedicate more time. It also takes a few weeks to really understand the schedule, lesson planning etc so the more time you have, the better and you can effect some real change. The volunteers around me that werent able to dedicate more than the 4 weeks minimum usually felt like they were leaving right as they were getting their bearings and forming an understanding of the children´s behaviors and learning styles. The other thing I would recommend is learning as much Spanish as possible before you arrive and also taking the offer for the Spanish lessons that La Esperanza offers. They have the best rate in town for only 2.50 per hour which goes right back to the nonprofit.
3 months in Nicaragua
Submitted by Maude - University Laval | October 23, 2015
I was a volunteer for 3 months in La Esperanza and it was one of the best experiences in my life. First of all I was not supposed to volunteer there but in another organization in Léon that didn't go so well. Looking for another organization in Nicaragua, I found La Esperanza and after a couple emails they accepted to take me in on such short notice! The administration was very welcoming, all the volunteers in the office, in my house and in the other houses were so nice that I felt automatically part of the team. It was such a relief after the unsuccessful experience in Léon.
For some reason I didn't get the chance so see all the schools but once I got to mine (Pablo Antonio Cuadra) I started to work in Kindergarten but as I found that repetitive I got to be transferred to first grade which was a-ma-zing. Of course it's Nicaragua, so the ressources are not always present but the relationship you develop with the kids, the ayudentes, the teachers and the other volunteers makes up for it. The one thing that I think makes La Esperanza special is that volunteers don't "steal" jobs from the locals, they only assist teachers who have overcrowded classrooms and in my opinion, that is crucial when it comes to volunteer work.
I would recommend staying at least 1 1/2-2 months because below that, it's sort of really short and you will wish you had stayed longer. What I would also recommend is to get involved! Me and other volunteers sort of came up with an art class 1-2 times a week which gave a break to the teachers and got the students to explore their creative side which is not developed so much there. (Lack of time and resources)
The housing is good overall, it is also very cheap (92$ for a dorm) and sharing a house/bedroom with other volunteers is what I missed the most when I came back to Canada.
Overall, I would totally recommend that experience to anyone. Nicaragua and especially Granada is pretty safe, the worst that could happen to you is getting robbed but you can prevent that by walking with other people at night, not carrying a lot of money or expensive stuff on you. I think volunteering is the best way to travel and to really get to know the culture of a country.
La Esperanza Granada
Submitted by Eli Schwartz - Goucher College | October 23, 2015
For me, this program was great because it was one of my first times traveling internationally on my own. I appreciated the fact that they really treat you like adults - they just require that you be at your assigned school every day, and the rest of the time is yours. The entire experience is really what you make of it. Some volunteers do come for the wrong reasons - i.e. they are more interested in partying than helping the kids, and tend to not show up to school sometimes. These people do detract from the volunteer experience a little bit because it's discouraging when not everybody is as invested as you are, but luckily there are not many like that. Some of my best memories are walking home from school through the market, stopping to get a fresco or fresh organic produce from street vendors, feeling great after a day's work. What you do at your school is largely up to you. You can sit in the corner and wait for the day to be over, or you can engage with your students and give them your all for the four hours that you're there. The ayudantes will assign you to a classroom, but you can easily ask to switch or even introduce your own ideas. One of the volunteers on my team was a primary school teacher from Spain, and was really dynamic in terms of taking the lead on projects and activities for the students. The organization is really defined by its volunteers more than the administrators.
There are several options for housing. You can do a homestay, stay in the volunteer housing, or get your own apartment. I stayed in the volunteer housing. It was sort of like college - just a house with a bunch of 20-something hanging out all the time. The accommodations are basic, but remember you are in a developing country, so don't expect things like air conditioning. You are roughing it a little but at least for me, the overall experience more than made up for a little discomfort.
The public market in Granada is amazing. There are fresh mangos, bananas, pineapple, vegetables, and everything you could want hidden in the crowded stalls for prices that are incredibly cheap by first world standards.
Many volunteers also take the opportunity to travel around Nicaragua and Central America, either before or after their volunteer experience. Weekend trips are also common, to relatively nearby destinations such as the island of Omotepe, the northern coffee-growing highlands of Nicaragua, and San Juan del Sur, to name a few. One of the perks of being a La Esperanza volunteer is that you always have a group of cheery traveling companions.
As for safety, it's mostly your responsibility to use common sense and follow the recommendations of La Esperanza and the community as far as taking a taxi after dark and traveling in groups. Volunteers are occasionally victims of crime, but never violent - usually teenagers who run up, snatch your purse or backpack and disappear. Walking through certain neighborhoods late at night is risking a mugging, just like any other city in the world. The standard price for a taxi is 20 cordobas (a little less than one dollar) per person to go anywhere in Granada, and taxis are everywhere, so be smart and take a taxi after dark.
You'll have a much better time and make more of an impact if you're at least conversational in Spanish. My Spanish was subpar when I arrived, but I took lessons provided by La Esperanza and learned pretty quickly, although it was difficult at first.
Do La Esperanza!!!!