Nicaragua | Study Abroad | Digital Media | Cuba | Caribbean | Spanish

Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Literacy, and Media

Explore Nicaragua a generation after the revolution and investigate how young people in Nicaragua and Cuba are creatively advocating for change.

In this program, you will examine youth culture, advocacy, social change, and expression across two generations in Nicaragua and gain comparative perspectives on youth issues during an excursion to Cuba. You will be immersed in the politically charged discourse and cultural life of these two fascinating countries.

Major topics of study include:

  • Nicaraguan and Cuban Revolutions, literacy campaigns, and contemporary challenges
  • Youth culture and expression in Nicaragua and Cuba
  • Youth and questions of access (to education, healthcare, and digital media)
  • Youth and issues of difference (e.g., ethnic, sexual, class, and religious differences)
  • Nicaraguan literature, literary styles, genres, and registers

National Palace in managuaThe SIT Nicaragua program treats the literacy campaigns of the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions as points of origin for the expansion of awareness of human, health, and educational rights and as a backdrop to current demands and achievements — particularly by youth — in terms of information and expression.

Program highlights:

  • Engage in writing workshops with community members.
  • Interact with Nicaraguan and Cuban youth who are assuming roles as political protagonists, artists, writers, and media producers.
  • Visit women’s centers and interview architects of Nicaragua’s autonomous feminist movement.
  • Work on projects with local radio stations in rural and urban settings.
  • Engage with a range of people with simple technology to both elicit and share dialog.
  • Visit a university on the Caribbean coast dedicated to working with students from different ethnic groups.

Live in Managua (program base).

During the first seven weeks of the program, you will live with a host family in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua and the country’s largest city, home to more than one million people. Managua is known as the city “where the streets have no names.” While at times this might be challenging, students learn to navigate the city’s streets through historic reference points. As Nicaragua’s economic and political center, Managua has a wide variety of cultural offerings, including theaters, museums, and a highly appreciated cuisine.

classroom in NicaraguaEngage with academic, professional, and community experts.

You will be exposed to a broad array of perspectives and in-country entities, particularly those engaged with the program’s themes: youth culture, expression, contemporary history, politics, and advocacy. 

Resources and partners in Nicaragua typically include:

  • Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)
  • Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones sobre la Salud (CIES)
  • Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense (URACAAN)
  • Programa Feminista Centroamericano La Corriente
  • Centro de Prevención de la Violencia (CEPREV)
  • Former leaders in the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional and the Resistencia Nicaragüense

Resources and partners in Cuba typically include:

  • Instituto de la Literatura y Lingüística, Havana
  • Asociación Hermanos Saiz, Havana  

Notable excursions and events

  • In the spring semester, the program travels to the city of Granada for the International Poetry Festival to immerse students in Nicaraguan poetry, music, and literary presentations.
  • In both semesters, the program visits Cuba, allowing students to gain an additional perspective on literacy and youth issues.
  • You will participate in the creation of digital oral histories with Podcasts for Peace in the marginalized community of Acahualinca.
  • By visiting public spaces throughout Managua, including worker’s monuments and roundabouts, you will analyze the use of public space, memory, and discourse within the ever changing landscape of the capital city.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Through a final independent research project, you will explore a specific issue related to youth culture and expression. You may conduct research for your ISP in Managua or other sites in Nicaragua, as approved by the academic director.

Sample ISP topics include:

  • Youth and radio
  • Poetry, politics, and gender
  • Higher education and identity among indigenous students
  • Social media and Nicaraguan Youth
  • Arts and handicrafts over generations
  • Sexual literacy and education in Nicaragua
  • Cultural expressions for afro-Caribbean youth


Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

The program’s first thematic seminar, Rewriting Nicaragua: Literacies, Rights, and Social Change, provides students with an overview of the historical and contemporary Nicaraguan context, emphasizing revolution and literacy campaigns, and working up to Nicaragua’s current struggles and challenges. The second thematic seminar, Re-imagining Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Media, and Expression, focuses on youth culture, taking care to consider questions of access (to education and digital media) and issues of difference (ethnic, sexual, class, religious, etc.).

In the program’s advanced Spanish seminar focused on written and oral expressions, Experiments in Writing, students examine politically charged poetry and literature of Nicaragua. The course is offered at three different language levels.

The Research Methods and Ethics seminar provides students with qualitative skills and introduces them to arts-based research techniques; it covers a range of digital media (visual and audio). In the final Independent Study Project, students explore youth culture, expression, and related themes.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Rewriting Nicaragua: Literacies, Rights, and Social Change – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This interdisciplinary seminar provides an overview of Nicaraguan social movements and realities before and since the Nicaraguan Revolution. Students analyze the literacy campaigns of the revolution as a point of origin for the expansion of awareness of basic rights (human rights, access to education and healthcare, sexual and religious freedoms, etc.), and as a backdrop to current demands for both information and expression. How did these earlier movements set the stage for the next generation's own call for social change and expanded freedoms? Through lectures, readings, site visits, and excursions, as well as a brief comparative study with Cuba, students gain knowledge and critical perspectives on post-revolutionary Nicaragua, which provide them with a framework in which to study contemporary youth culture and expression. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Re-imagining Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Media, and Expression – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this second seminar, students explore Nicaragua's youth culture. They question who the term "youth" refers to and how understandings of adolescence and early adulthood have evolved. Is there a parallel to the Millennial generation in Nicaragua? Can we really speak of a global youth culture in less than equitable situations? How, in what spaces and genres, and to whom are today's young people in Nicaragua, and to a lesser degree in Cuba, expressing themselves'? What are the themes they want to discuss? How do gender, class, and ethnicity intersect with these desires? How does higher education enter (or not enter) into these efforts'? How will this generation leave a mark and be heard? Students read works from a range of disciplines and sources (governmental, popular, academic) and interact with youth in different contexts, as well as participate in lectures and discussions about these issues. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua I – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua II – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua III – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this decidedly non-traditional course, students will enhance and expand their expressive capacity in Spanish through a wide range of oral, reading, and writing activities. They will develop both aural and oral skills through radio, podcasts, music, poetry, political speeches and propaganda, everyday conversation, and vernacular expressions while deepening their understanding across class and region and moving toward speaking at the level of a highly educated native speaker. Students will also study Nicaraguan literature, participate in writing workshops (often with community members), and learn to write in different styles, genres, and registers. This course is heavily oriented toward assuring that students are prepared for the Independent Study Project while also directly supporting/enhancing learning throughout the entire experience.
Research Methods and Ethics: Youth, Arts-Based Inquiry, Digital Media – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this research methods course designed to prepare students for the Independent Study Project, students learn how to organize and conduct a research project. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice a range of qualitative, digital, and arts-based methods appropriate for researching the program's themes. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to working with youth and with more public digital media forms, and they are guided through the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project. Most coursework conducted in English.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in Managua or other approved locations appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program's thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Sample topic areas: youth and radio; tweets and texts in Nicaragua; art and protest over two generations; sexual literacy and expression in Managua; poetry, politics, and gender; higher education and identity among indigenous students. Projects can be written in English or Spanish.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

The program includes both short site visits, typically around Managua, and longer excursions, including an excursion to Cuba.

group on excursion in NicaraguaShort site visits:

  • The program incorporates visits to points of interest and interactions with NGOs in Managua. Sites may include the National Palace, the Workers’ Plaza, and the birthplace of Carlos Fonseca, founder of FSLN. You will also visit several NGOs and organizations concerned with rights, including, the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos, the Red de Migrantes, or the Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia. A visit to La Corriente, an NGO that focuses on issues involving youth and sexuality, offers you another chance to engage with the program themes.
  • You will also frequently go to radio stations, a key form of expression and communication in Nicaragua. In Managua, you will visit the Radio Universitaria and Podcasts for Peace. While in rural areas, you will visit sites such as the Radio Palabra de la Mujer in Bocana de Paiwas. You may help create vignettes and public service spots during these experiences.

Longer excursions:

  • You will visit a rural community in Nicaragua to gain insights into the lives of non-urban Nicaraguan youth. This may include communities of agricultural day laborers and/or cooperatives.
  • Later in the semester, you will travel to the southern Caribbean coast where you will visit indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities. You will also visit the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN), which serves Miskito, Afro-Caribbean, and Garífuna students.
  • The program will take you on a ten-day excursion to Cuba for a comparative look at youth issues and various types of literacy, including both traditional and modern types of communication. Based in Havana, the academic excursion is coordinated through the Instituto de Literatura y Lingüísticas. You will receive lectures from researchers at the Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS) and visit groups like the Asociación Hermanos Saíz, an organization of young Cuban writers and artists devoted to opening space for the artistic and literary expression of their intellectual vanguard movement. Other sites you may visit include La Ceiba, an Afro-Cuban community on the outskirts of Havana. This excursion provides a particularly compelling comparative case study between Nicaragua and Cuba.

Maria LorioMaría Soledad Lorío, Interim Academic Director

María Soledad Lorío has a master’s degree in applied linguistics from UINANA and a degree in education. She also studied English translation at the Universidad Centroamerica (UCA) in Managua. During the 1970’s and the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s, María Soledad and her sisters sang Nicaraguan and revolutionary songs in Nicaragua, Europe, and the United States. She has worked in various NGOs as translator, interpreter, and manager and in bilingual schools as an English teacher. For the past five years María Soledad has been teaching English and Spanish at the Language Center of UNAN-León. In 2010, María Soledad co-founded a Spanish and Nicaraguan culture school in León, named Latinos, with two other Spanish teachers. Latinos works in coordination with the Spanish Language Faculty of UNAN-León, UNAN-Managua, and other foreign education entities to provide academic Spanish courses.

María Soledad has worked and collaborated with SIT Study Abroad in Nicaragua in various capacities such as program assistant, Spanish language teacher, and ISP advisor since 2000.

Maria Fuentes LopezMaría Teresa Fuentes López, Program Assistant

María Teresa has worked with SIT Nicaragua since she finished her university studies in 2004. She has a BA in international tourism and administration. Additionally, María Teresa has taken postgraduate courses in English, computers, and accounting. María Teresa works out of the study center, which is located in the homestay neighborhood of Colonia Máximo Jérez. María Teresa recently participated in the SIT Homestay Coordinators’ Workshop in Chile and coordinates all of the homestay activities with our homestay coordinator. María Teresa is a great resource for SIT Study Abroad Nicaragua students. She provides information on a variety of things such as prices, local jargon, cultural norms, bus routes, and taxi fares. María Teresa does many things for the program, from the accounting to managing the SIT Nicaragua library and other resources.  

Petrona Hernandez, Homestay Coordinator

Affectionately known to all the students as “Mamita,” Doña Tony, together with María Teresa, coordinates the homestay families. A longtime resident and community leader in Colonia Máximo Jérez, Doña Tony liaisons with the neighborhood security committees and other neighborhood initiatives. Doña Tony regularly visits the homestay families and students and also regulates the coming and going from the study center on weekends and after office hours.

Álvaro Cermeño, Security Officer

Álvaro has worked with SIT Study Abroad Nicaragua since 2008, taking on the role of security officer in 2010, helping prioritize the security of the students within the homestay community. He studied computer science at the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieros (UNI) and has also taken courses in accounting and community security. A permanent presence in the study center during office hours, Álvaro is available to accompany students to their homes in the evenings and to help facilitate the use of taxis, including noting the license plate number, one of our many security measures on the program. Álvaro can even be called on to accompany the students to their homes on weekend nights — no matter what time they come home.

Faculty and lecturers typically include:

Dora María Téllez, Lead Instructor

Dora María defines herself as a historian and consultant by trade and a militant of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) by vocation. She received her MA in history from the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua in 1998. Since 1997, she has been a professor at the Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua (URACCAN), the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN). Dora María joined the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional as a young woman in 1977 and played a decisive role during the armed struggle against the Somoza family military dictatorship. After the Sandinista triumph, she was named representative to the state council in 1980, served as the vice president of the state council until 1984, and was elected as a deputy to the National Assembly in 1985, serving until 1991. Additionally, she was appointed the Nicaraguan minister of health in 1985, a position she held until 1990. She is the founding president of the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) and is currently an associate of the Instituto de Historia de Nicaragua y Centroamérica (IHNCA), is an internationally renowned analyst and consultant on public policy, and actively participates in an advisory capacity with the Juventud Renovadora.

María Teresa Blandón Gadea, Lead Instructor

María Teresa earned her BA in social sciences from the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in 1991 and later completed an MA at the Universidad de Barcelona in gender and development. She is currently the director of the gender and development master’s program at UCA and regularly serves as a consultant with a multitude of NGOs and multinational organizations on gender issues. María Teresa has taught numerous postgraduate courses including Investigation with a Gender Focus, Feminist Theory, Identity and Subjectivity, Sexuality and Reproductive Rights, and Citizenship. María Teresa is the founder and regional coordinator of La Corriente, a Central American feminist organization launched in 1993. La Corriente seeks to contribute and strengthen the women’s movement in Central America through research, analysis, and debate on the situation of women in Central America, in the specific social, cultural, economic, and political context of the region. Under María Teresa’s leadership, La Corriente has produced diverse research and publications and organized national, regional, and international meetings to strengthen the feminist movement and to promote young feminist leaders.

Ana Victoria Portocarrero Lacayo

Ana Victoria is one of Nicaragua’s most promising young academics, completing her MA in development studies through the International Institute of Social Studies at The Hague in the Netherlands. Ana Victoria is currently the coordinator of the interdisciplinary program in gender studies at the Universidad Centro Americana (UCA) in Managua. This program involves all sectors of the university community and society and contributes to the training of women and men to confront the sexist nature of society and the education system in particular. Ana Victoria’s areas of interest include sexuality studies, youth cultures, power relations, and economics. 

Guillermo Pérez Leiva

Guillermo, a retired officer from the Nicaraguan army, was a founder of the Sandinista Popular Army in 1979. He joined the Sandinista guerrilla movement in the early 1970s as a young student activist from Matagalpa. He studied military science in Havana, Cuba, and Minsk, Belorussia (the former USSR), and he later earned an MBA and an MA in history from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua). Guillermo is a published poet and is dedicated to the study of spirituality, both within and outside Latin America, from the indigenous traditions to global spirituality. In1998 Guillermo participated in the founding of the post-Hurricane Mitch Civil Coordination, a national platform that brings together civil society in their efforts to rebuild and develop. Guillermo participates actively in Nicaragua’s civil society and promotes citizen participation. He is a member of the Global Crisis Observatory and serves on the advisory committee for the Latin American branch of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

During the course of the program, you will live with three different homestay families. In Managua and the rural homestay in Matagalpa, you will be placed individually with families. In central Havana, you will stay in casas particulares, where there is often more than one student per home. The opportunity to engage with youth in these settings permits you to compare and contrast the program’s core issues in three very distinct sites.

homestayHomestays provide you with new friendships and a local identity, as the host families typically become your families for these periods. Homestays offer you the unique opportunity to take knowledge from lectures and readings to the dinner table, as you engage your families in discussions about the topics you are studying. Living with a family also gives you an authentic and more intimate place in which to practice and refine your Spanish language skills.

Host families range widely in size, and family members can vary in age and personality. Each semester, host families typically include nuclear families, single working moms, and multiple generational homes. The ability to meet a wide cross-section of Nicaraguan families also gives you a more diverse and complex look at Nicaraguan society; as you experience very different homestays, your understanding of Nicaraguan life expands tremendously.

Other accommodations include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.

Managua (six weeks)

You will live with a homestay family in the Colonia Máximo Jérez neighborhood in Managua for approximately six weeks. Máximo is a working-class neighborhood centrally located in the city. It was also the community where many supporters of the Sandinista Revolution lived during the 1980s and is the subject of several ethnographies written by US scholars. During his visit to Nicaragua in 1987, Salmon Rushdie stayed in Máximo Jérez, where he wrote The Jaguar Smiles.

Rural Homestay in Matagalpa (one week)

In this extremely impoverished area, you will experience a different facet of Nicaragua. You will stay with a campesino family. Many of these families benefited from the National Literacy Campaign and the Sandinista Agrarian Reform. This time in rural Nicaragua provides a window through which to see the impact of the war of the 1980s and current economic and political realities. This is also the site of many talleres de poesia (poetry workshops). In some communities in the area, families own their own parcels of land; in other cases, they are farm workers for larger agricultural producers, primarily coffee producers. Struggles due to the lack of infrastructure and social services present challenges for these families.

Havana, Cuba (10 days)

During the ten-day academic excursion to Havana, Cuba, you will stay in casas particulares with Cuban families near the program’s host institution, the Institute for Literature and Linguistics (ILL), in Havana. This opportunity to interact with Cubans in their homes brings authenticity and depth to the excursion and allows you to gain insight into the challenges facing Cuban families today.

homestay mothers in NicaraguaMeet the homestay mothers in Managua

"Greetings! We are women who live with our families in Colonia Máximo Jérez, a neighborhood of Managua where you will have your homestay. We have a great deal of experience hosting university students from the United States in our homes."

"Hola, somos mujeres que vivimos con nuestras familias en la Colonia Máximo Jérez, contamos con gran experiencia brindando atención a muchachas y muchachos de las universidades de Estados Unidos."


A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Public Defender, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Community Outreach and Intern Supervisor, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Intern, Domestic Policy Council, White House, Washington, DC
  • PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), Boston, Massachusetts
  • Environmental Journalist, The Huffington Post, Washington, DC

Program Dates: Fall 2016

Program Arrival Date:  Aug 24, 2016

Program Departure Date:    Dec 6, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Jun 1, 2016


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,210

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Political and economic history
    • Social movements and civil society
    • Culture of peace
    • Coastal culture and identity
  • Field Study Seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Intensive language instruction in Spanish
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Matagalpa and Cuba
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food) 
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $2,540

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Managua), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • All homestays (six weeks in Managua and one week in Matagalpa, and 10 days in Havana, Cuba)  
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 25

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 100

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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