Youth Culture, Literacy, and Media

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

At a Glance




3 semesters Spanish

Language of Study


Courses taught in



the last week of August ‎– mid-December

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Education & Social Change

Education & Social Change Icon

Peace & Justice

Peace & Justice Icon


Why study youth in Nicaragua?

Studying in Nicaragua will provide opportunities to examine the country’s youth cultures, advocacy, social change, and expression. The Literacy Campaign of 1980 dramatically increased literacy rates throughout Nicaragua and since then, the country has seen an expanded awareness of rights and demands for information—particularly by youth. You’ll explore these themes as you engage with former Sandinista leaders, architects of Nicaragua’s autonomous feminist movement, and politically active youth, participate in digital literacy workshops, and work with local radio stations.

You will have the opportunity compare social movements and youth culture in Cuba during a 10-day excursion and spend time with indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities on the Caribbean Coast. The program includes homestays in Managua, rural Nicaragua, and Cuba, which will help deepen your understanding of each community’s lifestyle, culture, and the challenges they face.

You’ll also expand your expressive capacity in Spanish through nontraditional language class utilizing a range of academic, literary, artistic, and media activities.


  • Meet Nicaraguan and Cuban youth active in politics, arts, literature, and media.
  • Participate in digital literacy workshops with community members.
  • Learn from Nicaraguan and Cuban academic, professional, and community experts.
  • Visit Cuba and indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities on the Caribbean Coast.


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


Managua, Cuba

This program includes short site visits, typically around Managua, and longer excursions, including one to Cuba. In the spring semester, the program travels to Granada for the International Poetry Festival, where you will be immersed in Nicaraguan poetry, music, and literary presentations. In the fall semester, the program is in Cuba for the annual weeklong celebration of Cuban culture. Longer excursions include a small community in Nicaragua to learn about the lives of rural Nicaraguan youth

Around Managua

This program includes a number of short site visits around Managua. These may include the National Palace, the Worker’s Plaza, and the birthplaces of Carlos Fonseca, founder of FSLN. You will also visit NGOs and rights organizations including the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos, the Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia, and La Corriente, an NGO that focuses on issues involving youth and sexuality. You will also visit radio stations in Managua including Radio Universitaria and Podcasts for Peace.


A 10-day excursion to Cuba provides a comparative case study with Nicaragua. Based in Havana, the academic excursion is coordinated by the Instituto de Literatura y Lingüísticas. You will examine youth issues and literacy, including traditional and modern communications; hear lectures at the Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas; and visit writers and artists groups, like the Asociación Hermanos Saíz. Other sites may include Taller de Transformación, an inner-city community in central Havana.

Caribbean Coast

You will travel to the southern Caribbean coast to visit indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities and the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, which serves Miskito, Afro-Caribbean, and Garífuna students.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



Access virtual library guide.

This program will provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of Nicaragua’s social movements and realities, revolution, and youth culture. The excursion to Cuba, will provide a comparative case study on youth culture and social movements in the two countries. A non-traditional Spanish course will help students enhance and expand their expressive capacity in the language through a wide range of literary, artistic, and media activities. Students will also learn about ethical research and practice qualitative, digital, and arts-based methods to prepare them to conduct their Independent Study Project.

The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions and contemporary challenges
  • Youth culture and expression in Nicaragua and Cuba
  • Youth access to education, healthcare, and digital media
  • Ethnic, sexual, class, and religious issues among youth
  • Nicaraguan literature, literary styles, and spoken word

Rewriting Nicaragua: Literacies, Rights, and Social Change

Rewriting Nicaragua: Literacies, Rights, and Social Change – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits / 45 class 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

Re-imagining Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Media, and Expression – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits / 45 class 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? In what spaces and genres and how and to whom are today’s young people in Nicaragua and, to a lesser degree, 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 participating in lectures and discussions about these issues. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua

Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua I – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)

Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua II – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)

Spanish Communication and Expression in Contemporary Nicaragua III – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits / 45 class 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

Research Methods and Ethics: Youth, Arts-Based Inquiry, Digital Media – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class 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 is conducted in English.

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 class 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. Projects can be written in English or Spanish.

Sample ISP Topics:

  • 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

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

View Eli Laban’s ISP video project



During the first six weeks, you will live with a host family in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital and largest city. You will live with a homestay family in Colonia Máximo Jérez, a central, working-class neighborhood where many supporters of the Sandinista Revolution lived during the 1980s. The area is the subject of several ethnographies written by U.S. scholars.


In this extremely under-resourced area, you will experience a different facet of Nicaragua as you witness the impact of the war of the 1980s and current economic and political realities. Stay with a campesino family who may own their parcel of land or may be farmworkers for larger agricultural producers. These families face struggles due to the lack of infrastructure and social services, and many benefited from the National Literacy Campaign and the Sandinista Agrarian Reform. This is also the site of many talleres de poesia (poetry workshops).

Havana, Cuba

During the 10-day academic excursion to Cuba, you will stay in casas particulares with Cuban families near the program’s host institution, the Institute for Literature and Linguistics in Havana. This opportunity to interact with Cubans in their homes brings authenticity and depth to the excursion and allows you to better understand the challenges facing Cuban families today.

Career Paths

Students who participate in this program represent a wide range of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to do academic or professional work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Public defender, Milwaukee, WI

  • Community outreach and intern supervisor at Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Minneapolis, MN

  • Intern with the White House Domestic Policy Council, Washington, DC

  • PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), Boston, MA

  • Environmental journalist with The Huffington Post, Washington, DC

Faculty & Staff

Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Literacy, and Media

Petrona Hernandez
Homestay Coordinator
Dora María Téllez, MA
Lead Instructor
María Teresa Fuentes López
Program Assistant
Álvaro Cermeño
Security Officer

Discover the Possibilities


    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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