Themes for Group Travel

Travel groups are a vital part of the Project Minnesota/León mission. Groups are united around a common interest and travel to León, Nicaragua, with the support of PML.

Participants stay with host families and learn about culture, politics, religion, education, history, and more. Group members acquire a firsthand view of life in León, while reflecting and sharing experiences with other participants to deepen their understanding.

PML is currently in the planning stages for several travel groups, summer 2017 to early 2018. We will also help you organize a group around your own interests.

For more ideas or to learn more about traveling to Nicaragua, contact PML's development and outreach director, Emily Wallace-Jackson (emily.mn.leon@gmail.com), or PML board member Deborah Allan (dallan@umn.edu). 

 

Possible themes

 Human Rights/Women’s Rights

  • Explore the rural San Carlos community and observe PML's project facilitator's work in community development and other issues.
  • Visit the Mediation Center at the national university branch in León.
  • Analyze television and newspaper coverage.
  • Speak with the director of an immigration rights center who assists Nicaraguans who want to emigrate to other countries.
  • Learn about recent laws related to national security.
  • Compare laws and reality in the indigenous community of Sutiava.
  • Discuss femicide (men murdering women with whom they have an intimate relationship) and cultural machismo.
  • Hear pros and cons of Law 779, established to support women and children and set up task forces without legal/judicial authority to charge or prosecute rapists.

 

Ecology/Environment/Agriculture

  • Explore Leon’s unique geography and dry tropical rainforest biosphere: hike up a volcano, picnic at a water-filled dormant crater laguna, walk a Pacific Ocean beach, hear about earthquakes.
  • Boat to Nature Preserve Juan Vendado Island, with optional overnight camping and possible sea turtle hatching.
  • Review the history of agriculture in León, including the cash-crop conversion from cotton to peanuts and sugarcane; tour Flor de Caña rum distillery and learn about this mega industry.
  • Hear from La Isla Foundation, an advocacy organization studying the causes and solutions to the current epidemic among sugarcane workers of Chronic Kidney Disease, which is associated with heavy labor in hot temperatures.
  • Connect with locals at San Carlos, a rural community that PML works with, to learn about ongoing community initiatives to secure potable water. Hear concerns about water crisis—effects of El Niño cycles, drought, well pollution, and large-scale irrigation.
  • Hike around Rancho Los Alpes Ecolodge, with options to view medicinal plants, milk cows, eat typical foods, and stay over night.
  • Check in at the San Carlos health clinic to learn about mosquito-borne diseases, public health threats, and health care challenges in the community.
  • Compare individual farming with cooperatives and agro-industry.
  • Follow the process of Minnesotan-owned Twin Engine Coffee, responsible producers of one-source coffee.
  • Visit SONATI, an environmental education and conservation program, and learn about topics such as climate change, pollution, deforestation, wild animal trafficking, and trash treatment.
  • Participate in a class at Xuchialt Art School and create a painting based on traditional primitivism style that celebrates nature.

 

 Religion

  • Delve into the rich history of the Catholic Church in León: parishes organized according to racial/ethnic profile, relationship with indigenous population, influence of liberation theology during revolution struggle, lasting cultural effects.
  • Analyze current impact of faith proclamations in politics.
  • Compare secular and public education.
  • Observe the increase of evangelical Christians in Nicaragua.

 

Additional Themes

  • Teach English to elementary or high school/university students.
  • Learn about the challenges and rewards businesses face. 
  • Visit hospitals and clinics and meet with medical students and personnel. 
  • Explore mental health services, including access, delivery, issues, and treatment.