Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society
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Faculty and Staff
Aynn Setright, Academic Director
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 the North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN and RAAS). 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 currently completing a PhD in social sciences from the University of Zulia, Venezuela. 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 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), 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, as well as 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 a MBA and a 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).
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Managua
Language Study: Spanish
Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...
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