Nicaraguan Volunteer Training

It’s been an incredible few days.

We’re here with thirteen youth from Boaco, and two youth from Matagalpa, who are going to be national and international vols this summer. They are so inspiring, so empowered, so thoughtful, and so silly. We are at this Feminist Public Pedagogy, Culture and Education Centre, and its seriously awesome. Covered in brilliant murals. Filled with signs that say “Aqui Se Respeta La Mujer.” Brimming with feminist history painted on the walls. Populated by awesome women wearing feminist t-shirts, and youth organizing for all kinds of causes. Youth organizing for a queer youth protest, women organizing against sexual violence, young people working with street kids— its just incredible. And the food is SO good. It’s been a haven. I was feeling like no one was radical, like the youth needed a jolt of something political, like the only one who really “gets it,” Maribel, was on maternity leave and out of the picture. It was feeling too normative and too mainstream… and not crazy, beautiful, insane, out of the box enough.

And then we got to the feminist centre. And everything was beautiful beautiful beautiful. I felt like I was home, finding this little oasis of all kinds of thoughtful, critical, organized people in the middle of the mountains of Nicaragua. Breath of fresh air, just what I needed. So much to take in visually, so many people to talk to, possibilities hatching every which direction.

And then the most amazing thing happened- my youth started asking questions! They started reading about the cultural myths told in stories and pictures around the place, they got interested in the women’s history mural, and they talked to a woman who painted a mural of women dancing and a rainbow and la cosecha, and asked her how she got that idea, and where it came from. They started talking to the queer youth organizers, and one of them asked me if we could do a workshop on gender and sexuality, and invite them to do some activities. They talked about childrens’ rights with the girl who was working with kids who pick through the trash at the local dump. And all this, in the down time between activities!

Suddenly, I was proud. Energized. Full of love and appreciation and hope. The activities Marta and Alberto and I led were awesome, the youth participating (mostly) with gusto and endless ideas. You’ll have to check back soon for videos and photos. So inspiring.

I’ve been a little sad to see them get ready, because it means most of them will leave Boaco, and go to Matagalp (mostly) or Ecuador. I won’t get to see them continue to grow, but I cannot wait to greet them at the airport or bus station in August, and listen to their endless stories. I simply can’t wait. This summer, these youth participants, they represent so much for me- the culmination of something that started back in 2000, though I never knew it would lead to a PhD and a 4-time-PD-experience. AMIGOS has come so far, and I’ve been so lucky to be on this decade long journey, where I’ve witnessed changes in the program structure to foster more youth engagement, and where I’ve had the chance to work hand in hand with all kinds of incredible youth along the way. The past three years have been so special- I’ve now watched these incredible youth from Boaco go from shy, young fourteen year olds who rarely spoke up and smiled abashedly at youth encuentros, to loud, opinionated, outspoken, hard to control seventeen and eighteen year olds with big visions, gigantic dreams, and tons of drive to get there. To be able to watch this kind of development is just oh so energizing, inspiring. These youth- Anielka, Pablo, Darling, Isac, Rita, Alan, Selene, Israel, Jerryx, Gladys, and so many more- these youth are what keep me going. Simply, LOVE.

And so, here we go. Time now, dear youth, to stretch your wings, to fly high, to show Ecaudor and Matagalpa what you’ve got, to teach the younger youth to be just like you, to change the world. As Pablo said, “I used to be so shy, and I never participated. Being with these youth and working with AMIGOS has helped me change that. Now I participate all the time.” Absolutely, Pablo. Me, too. I used to be shy, too, (believe it!) and for me, too, AMIGOS helped me becoming more outgoing, learn to speak my mind, and figure out how to accomplish a dream.

And this dream? It has thirteen incredible youth from Boaco in it, who are making it happen, right now. AMIGOS BOACO 2011, VAMANOS!!!

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New Videos!

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Baby Duty

So, this afternoon I got a frantic call from my dear friend Maribel. Her routine doctor checkup, a week before her baby was due, was turning into a c-section. I forgot all about buying poster paper and making agendas, picked up some diapers and newborn clothing (she did not bring any because this was not supposed to be baby-day!), and raced across town.

What ensued was the a whole lot of waiting. And bugging nurses and military men. And asking Mario to call the big shots to make sure she was properly cared for. And making friends with the old women waiting for their grand babies and great grand babies. And carrying around Maribel’s stuff. And completely ignoring the activities I need to plan!

And then I was called in to cut the umbilical cord, and because Maribel was still groggy I was the one they handed the baby to. Yes, me, 1 second old baby, in my arms, like ohmygod. I had him for a little, and then they took him off to test his vitals, and then they called me back in to diaper him up, and lemme tell you how awkward it was, me and the grandma’s! But they helped, as old women in Latin America always do. And I felt incredibly imcompetent. But that’s just sorta how I roll here, not knowing what to do and asking the old women what to do, and frequently screwing it up. Thank god I got the diaper on right.

Then the nurses took him again, I went to pick Alberto up at the airport, and take him to dinner, where he promptly became ill. Because that is what you do in Nica. Become ill. So then I took him back to the hotel, tucked him in, and taxi’d back. Mari is exhausted, and we’re waiting for them to bring us the bebe. The tiny little black haired babe who’s name is Cristian. He’s all pink and wrinkly and new.

Which brings me to the next concern. In the next bed over, grandma over there is making the baby stop crying and holding her so the mom can sleep. Ummmmmm….. is that going to be my job?

Baby Video:!/video/video.php?v=670045840734

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Five Things About Teustepe….

Five things about Teustepe that will never change…

  • There are youth who find me at all hours to tell me they want to be AMIGOS vols
  • The taxi drivers and bicycle taxis ALL know my name, and I’m embarrassed not to know theirs
  • I order off Dona Irma’s menu but she doesn’t actually have 90% of what’s on it
  • In addition to a permanent sheen of sweat, my skin is also permanently coated in bug repellent and SPF 60.
  • The old man who drives us to communities in a red pick up truck greets me with his own personal combination of the high-five and the handshake and the dorky joke “cinco mas cinco, para tener diez.” “Five plus five, so we’ll have ten.”

Five new things about Teustepe…

  • Maribel is super prego! As in, baby in the house in 2 weeks!
  • Two meals in a row, she has not served me guajada. Which is cause for HUGE celebration, and I mean huge.
  • Secretly, I want a community. Can’t a four-time PD have a community? Especially a community where her research is centered? Sounds awesome.
  • For some reason, interviewing one youth at a time, who I know super well turns me into a nervous mess, while I have no qualms leading a hundred youth I don’t know in cheers, games, songs, activities. Weird.
  • A painter from Las Limas has opened a gallery/store/shop in front of the park.


Five  project things I’ve gotten done since being in Teustepe….

  • Rented staff house: check (indoor-ish bathroom, open spaces, 2 big bedrooms, low rent, cute kitchen, sort of near government buildings, right on the park, nicely painted…) We get it May 28.
  • Meeting with Isela
  •  Sending Betty to fix her birth certificate with Maribel tomorrow so she can be a vol in Ecuador
  • Sent Rosalio and Armando with permission slips and invites for the vol training, and info on being a vol, to half the communities today, Isela and I go to the other half tomorrow
  • Started in on the budget projections. Those of you who know me know this is a feat.

Five non-project things I’ve gotten done since being in Teustepe….

  • Put together a bassinet. Not easy. Had to strong arm it.
  • Had like seventy four tea parties with Yazira
  • Watched people dance merengue on horses. And I’m not joking. Horses have a better sense of rythym that I am ever will.
  • Considered doing Bikram, after all I don’t need a heated room. Didn’t do it.
  • Been fascinated with the influx of cross-dressers into Teustepe, and their acceptance in the bars built just for the fiestas patronales, which seems at odds with how secretive queer peeps in this city are about their sexuality.
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I’m here!

I’m here. Tomorrow, Chema is picking me up from Hostal San Agustin. I spent the morning in a futile attempt to figure out where we might buy the vols going to Ecuador from Boaco warm clothing. I just am not sure we’ll find wool socks and scarves in one of the hottest cities in the world. Hmm.

This morning I had breakfast at Casa del Cafe. Americano, with steamed milk. Gallo pinto and eggs, and fried sweet plantains. Fresh guava juice. The sun is beating hard, time to start wearing sunscreen alllllll the time.

The I ran a thousand errands- picking up tooth paste and hunting for warm clothing, finding out where we can buy cots if we need more and sucking down bottle after bottle of purified water. Had lunch at Dona Haydee’s with a friend- yummy sopa de albondiga. I love sopa de albondiga. The albondiga’s (meat balls, directly translated) are made of corn masa and shredded chicken breast, and you can taste the mint in them. They come in a bowl of chicken broth, along with several vegetables- yuca, potato, carrot, squash, some purple root vegetable… yum, basically.

This afternoon, I’m doing project budget projections, research methods review and prep, and reading an airport book. That’s it for now, folks! Stay tuned for more videos and blog entries.

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Seattle Airport

I’m in Seattle!

I know its the states because….

  • Hulu
  • Pandora
  • the language options on the ATM are all langauges I speak: Spanish and English, not French and English
  • Diet Doctor Pepper is sold in the magazine and book stores
  • No one is saying sooooory
  • on the TVs are sports that are not hocket
  • money is green
This is the first part of the journey to begin my Nica project…. This morning I said goodbye to Sammy. Last night we went out to delish Italian, and laughed until we cried. We walked home with the red and orange persian rug we bought on the way to dinner. See, we were on the bus, and then we saw this place with persian rugs, big, giant ones for sale. So we stopped. And there we were, oohing and aaahing over the rugs, until we ended up with one at the very bottom of the stack, for $220. We were quite pleased with ourselves! And I felt like a real grown up, buying a rug like that! So after dinner we laid it out in the living room, in front of the couch. And it is lovely! Lovely! And then we watched movies and snuggled and went in the spa and drank peppermint tea. Also lovely. And then we snuggled in bed, and fell asleep. This morning we woke up and made breakfast together. Delicious, and lovely, and rainy. And then the yellow cab came, and we hugged and kissed goodbye, and I miss him now! 
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Summer’s coming!

I leave Vancouver in less than a week! Wow. Where’d the time go? Good thing is, things are good here. I’m shocked its time, but I’m excited to go, too. Academically, I’ve done the things I need to do, I’ve jumped through the necessary hoops and worked through the theory and gotten somewhere with my research project that my committee supports and is behind. I was awarded a sizable fellowship, and the stress that evaporates when you know everything is financially covered is incredible. So, I’m ready. Ready to run this project, ready to do this research, ready to spend my summer in little old Teustepe.

One of my favorite parts of the beginning of the summer is after Project Supervisors go out to communities, and get them ready for the summer. It’s often something that is nerve-wracking at the beginning, but ultimately sups LOVE survey, and I love when they come home from survey, thrilled for the summer, excited about their communities, overflowing with stories. Here’s a sample.

Boaco, here we come!!!

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We need your help to make the project happen!!!

Many of you are aware of my involvement with AMIGOS de las Americas over the past decade.  This summer I will again serve as a Project Director in Boaco, Nicaragua. It will be my fourth time as a Project Director (how’d that happen?) and my eighth summer with AMIGOS. This summer is especially unique as the AMIGOS project on youth media is part of my doctoral research on youth media, political participation, and globalization.
I need your help to make a new media initiative happen in Boaco, Nicaragua with AMIGOS and Plan International this summer. For the second summer, we are running a media/technology project, where youth and vols will make short media pieces about children’s rights issues all summer long. In order to make it happen, we need donations. Even the smallest amount goes a long way in Latin America- $10 can bring four youth to a leadership training, $50 can pay for a Nicaraguan artist to come work with our youth, $100 can buy a video camera- so please do what you can to support this project!
To see some videos from last year’s youth media programs, please check out my project/research blog, which can be found here: Follow our project this summer on our blog!

Donations are tax deductible and go directly to project programming in Boaco, Nicaragua.

Read more about the program in the attached flier, and donate here:

And if you have already donated, THANK YOU!!!!!! Your contribution is essential in running this program, and will allow more youth to participate in deeper ways in this youth media/arts program!

Much love,

Chelsey Hauge

Project Director, Boaco, Nicaragua
AMIGOS de las Americas

vol ’00, ’01; sup ’02; APD ’03; PD ’06, ’09, ’10, ’11

Follow us this summer:

Facebook: AMIGOS and Media Art in Boaco, Nicaragua:!/group.php?gid=282464021060

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AMIGOS Boaco to Host Bay Area Happy Hour!

Come to an AMIGOS happy hour benefiting the AMIGOS BOACO MEDIA PROJECT! $5 drinks, $3 appetizers!
Where: Cocina Poblana, Jack London Square, 499 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA, 510-451-4700
When: Monday, May 9 5:30 pm
What: 10% of all proceeds go directly to fund the AMIGOS Boaco Media Project!!!!!! On this project, youth make a series of innovative, exciting, meaningful media projects, including videos, photo essays, and radio shows. Learn more here:
This happy hour is hosted by AMIGOS Boaco Project Director Chelsey Hauge. Come learn about our programming in Boaco, connect with new and old friends, and celebrate the beginning of the summer!
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Boaco Youth Present at the AMIGOS Board Meeting

The AMIGOS International Board is meeting this weekend about strategic planning and organizational oversight in Granada, Nicaragua. The board is made up of a number of diverse stakeholders, largely individuals who either participated in AMIGOS, or who are parents of AMIGOS alumni, and who are established professionals in a wide array of fields, ranging from international business to youth development to finance. This afternoon, the board welcomed Darling, Alan, and Betty to tell them about their experiences.

Darling, Betty and Alan on a boat ride after their presentation.

The youth shared why they work with AMIGOS, how they have grown, what their experiences have been. I was very proud of these three rockstars for standing up and sharing their hopes, dreams, experiences, and insights. I think the board appreciated hearing from these Latin American youth, and seeing who these counterparts and volunteers are!

Congrats, wonderful youth. You were amazing!

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