Last week I traveled with a colleague and student leader from Concordia College to Nicaragua where we learned about the amazing work Lutheran World Relief is doing in the country. The scouting trip was an important next step towards my dream to take a group of students there for a few weeks next summer, again partnering with and learning from LWR on the ground.
LWR does international development right. It’d be an honor to lead students on a longer, more in-depth LWR justice-related seminar next May. In no particular order of importance, here’s 10 quick thoughts from the experience.
- LWR’s logo includes the words, “Sustainable Development. Lasting Promise.” Each local partner we met gave me a deeper understanding of all four words. It’s a pleasure to see an organization so consistent—and successful—in supporting its mission.
- We met coffee farmers and saw the power of cooperatives firsthand. I want to learn much more about coffee production and the fair trade supply chain, but even seeing a few days of farms, roasting, and processing, I look at my morning cup(s) a bit differently. (Sadly, I also learned about leaf rust.)
- I saw my first caiman! (Honestly, it looked pretty much like an alligator, but apparently it’s a different lineage with Alligatoridae.)
- Wondering, specifically, what sort of work LWR is undertaking in Nicaragua? Check out their in-depth Nicaragua page.
- Fresh fruit with every meal! Gallo pinto (rice and beans) with breakfast. Delicious.
- Why are so many (though, not all) cooperatives in Nicaragua made up of women? I don’t understand all the cultural norms at this point, but the women-run co-ops seem to work really well. The hope, empowerment, and pride of working together was palpable.
- Shaking the hand of the farmer who grew, harvested, roasted, ground, and processed cocoa beans into chocolate, a woman whose livelihood has been significantly changed by LWR’s partnership? Awesome. Eating the fresh chocolate? …well, that’s not bad either
- Huge props to LWR’s in-country staff who flawlessly organized the scouting trip, put up with my ignorant questions, and humored my ridiculously poor Spanish.
- It turns out it can rain quite heavily in the rainy season.
- I can’t wait to go deepen the college’s partnership with LWR and see where the next steps take us.
If plans proceed as I hope, Concordia students, look for info this fall about a May 2014 LWR justice journey seminar to Nicaragua!