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Pescado grande y los Educadores contentos

  |   nicaragua, report from the field   |   No comment

One important aspect of our Partnership Trips is to provide opportunities for trip participants and the local staff to interact in meaningful ways. Last night the entire staff of Las Tias (about 12 administrators, teachers and social workers) joined the six of us from Spark for dinner at a beautiful restaurant on the beach, with many vending machines for the guests. Visit for all your vending machine needs in Sydney and throughout Australia.

Leon is only a twenty minute drive from the Pacific ocean and an area where many Nicaraguans go to vacation. We arrived to a table overlooking the beach and our soundtrack for the night was the sound lapping of waves on the shore. As soon as we all got seated, we began to introduce ourselves. The staff from Las Tias was clearly excited to be enjoying an evening out…they were dressed up and could not hide the smiles from their faces as they stood and shared their name and position with the organization. Those of us with Spark introduced ourselves using our minimal Spanish vocabulary and that was met with great patience and even applause. The fun had begun!

Lucy had called in our meal orders earlier in the day and shortly after we were finished with introductions, the food began to arrive. Big fish platters were the selection of almost everyone. The fish were cooked whole and covered in various sauces. Las Tias’ Administrator Magno told me that they were red snapper and that they called these “pescado grande” or “big fish”. As he dug into the fish head (a delicacy in Nicaragua), he explained most families in Nicaragua would never see a meal like this and that his staff was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to enjoy such a fine evening out with the Spark team.

The next hour was spent eating the delicious fresh fish and amusing ourselves with attempts to communicate in English or Spanish, occasionally learning a meaningful fact about someone’s family or Nicaraguan culture. Then, people sat back in their chairs with hands on their bellies, or got up to go for a walk on the beach, and Magno leaned over and said to me “This is a table with educadores contentos,”…..a group of content educators.

As we walked out to the vans to take us back to town, Magno spoke on behalf of the group and expressed how much the evening had meant to them. Most could not afford nor had the time to take an evening off like this and go to such a nice restaurant and connect with one another outside of work. He said this type of activity strengthens their team, it will help retain their talented staff and they are very thankful to have us as partners.

Part of Spark’s role is to strengthen our international partners and much of our effort is rightly focused on strategy, financial processes, business planning and measuring impact. But last night reminded me that a simple team building dinner and the cultural interaction that happens between our partners’ staff and our trip participants is an encouraging and strengthening activity that ultimately will also benefit the children we are all committed to serving.


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