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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.
The 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.
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.
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:
Resources and partners in Cuba typically include:
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:
Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.
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.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
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.
A native of Wyoming, Aynn Setright first came to Nicaragua in 1985 with an organization called Witness for Peace. As a long-term volunteer with Witness for Peace, Aynn drove an ambulance in the war zone and worked with a rural Catholic parish in the northern mountains of Nicaragua. From 1987 to 1993 she was the coordinator of a small development organization, Proyecto Cristo Rey, working with 800 war refugee families in sixteen resettlement communities in Matagalpa and what is now known as the North and South Autonomous Caribbean Coast Regions (RACCN and RACCS). This project was awarded the Institute for Policy Studies Letelier-Moffit Memorial Human Rights Award in 1991. Aynn has a BA in international studies from the University of Wyoming and an MA in Latin American and Caribbean history from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN), Managua. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Zulia, Venezuela, and is currently completing her dissertation on Central American Ecofeminism. Aynn has been the academic director for SIT Study Abroad in Nicaragua since 1999. She is a member of the Latin American Studies Association and participates in the Central American Studies Section of LASA as well as in the Central American Historians Association.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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, 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.
Homestays 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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
The dates listed above are tentative. 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: Nov 1, 2015
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.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
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.
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
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.