Trip Wrap Up – “Hasta Luego Nicaragua”
Spark Ventures wrapped up its first ever Young Professionals trip to Nicaragua last week and we wanted to chat one last time with our trip participant, Young Professionals of Spark member and blogger, Jessica Dangles.
What were some highlights of the trip?
I have to say one of the highlights of the trip was getting to know the staff at Las Tías. They’ve impacted so many lives of children and families and this was apparent when I had the opportunity to visit one of the homes of the children in the youth program. His mother let our group know how his grades had improved since getting involved in Las Tías and his father had learned carpentry through their vocational training program.
We also got the opportunity to see where Las Tías was formed in a tiny corner of the market in León. It’s amazing to see the growth Las Tías has had over the years and how comprehensive their programs are. The quality of education is lagging in the public schools that most of the children attend, so the work of Las Tías is critical for the youth and families in León.
Spending time with the children was truly valuable. In spite of the language barrier we were all able to see the value of the services that Las Tías provides. It was also just fun to run around with the kids playing ball, practicing English and having lunch together.
What kind of activities did you partake in outside of the volunteering?
The trip included time in both the city of León and Granada. During my time in León I visited the León Cathedral and hiked the volcano, Telica. I can’t forget to mention my experience volcano boarding on Cerro Negro in León. It was equal parts exciting and terrifying. I think I’m still cleaning rocks out of my shoes! Granada was action packed with the Mombacho Volcano Hike and zip-line, as well as the Isletas boat tour on our final evening. Nicaragua is a beautiful country that offers a variety of activities depending on your interests. From coffee tasting to volcano hikes there is really something for everyone to enjoy!
How was the food?
I have to say, I was surprised at how good the food was! I’ll never forget the feast the staff at Las Tías cooked for our group on our final night in León. From platters of tacos and meat cooked in banana leaves, fresh juices and desserts, no one left hungry that evening. Sharing food is a big part of the culture and it was a honor to spend the evening with the staff and other trip participants while dancing and listening to music. Outside of that meal I enjoyed a lot of seafood and grilled vegetables. Nicaragua was memorable for many reasons, including the food!
Any final thoughts on the trip?
I was so proud to represent Spark and to learn what an impact the organization has had on Las Tías. Sitting down with Spark’s CEO, Rich Johnson, during our strategy session was a really meaningful experience. There was such an energy in the room that afternoon as we all shared our thoughts and ideas and learned more about the vision and history of Spark. Going into this trip not knowing anyone, I have to say I left with a whole new group of friends that are passionate about the mission of Spark Ventures.
I would highly recommend both seasoned and new travelers to travel with Spark on a future trip. For anyone interested in future trips there is a Trip Interest Event next week to get all of your questions answered. Lists of upcoming trips are also available here.