Follow Team Nica 2010

A young girl holds a photo of Team Nica 2010.

The members of Team Nicaragua will be in Nicaragua from January 4 through January 16 and will be blogging while they travel. For those who would like to follow their blog on, just link to the Team Nica blog at Find out what the team is learning about around the issues of social, political, and economic disparities in developing countries. You are encouraged to post your own thoughts and comments as well.

About the Nicaragua Mission

The Center for Non-Violence and Peace Initiatives and the Protestant Community at MSU are dedicated to broadening student’s global awareness, experience, activism and education in order to empower them to create change in their communities and the world. This experience is designed to build upon the classroom experience by applying knowledge and experience to a challenging real world environment.

One of the many learning objectives is to gain a better perspective of the various systems that keep developing countries (like Nicaragua) form achieving economic and social stability.  In addition, individuals will have the unique opportunity to build relationships, network, learn from our Nicaraguan partners. Some of the learning/work experiences will include meeting with a variety of organizations to learn about issues of women's and human rights, worker’s rights, education, and most importantly health and the environment. We will also have the privilege and unique opportunity to help educate the children of a certain community. We will be learning first-hand about alternative developmental projects, including the impacts of Free and Fair Trade on the garment and coffee industries. We will also have the opportunity to tour a “maquilardora,” which is a foreign-owned factory, to learn about the unsafe working conditions and help take action to promote healthier and safer working environments.

This annual international service learning project is led by Jhon Velasco, Director of the Center for Non-Violence and Peace Initiatives and adjunct professor in the Health and Nutrition Sciences department, and Kevin McGowan, Program Assistant for the Center for Non Violence and Peace Initiatives. They have worked diligently with the MSU administration and Witness for Peace (, a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people based in Washington D.C. committed to non-violence and social justice, to create the opportunity for taking 12 Montclair State University students, an intense 13-day educational mission to the country of Nicaragua from January 4 - 16 2010.

This is what we know about Nicaragua

  • It is the poorest country in Central America.
  • 53% of homes do not have electricity
  • 36% of homes do not have safe drinking water
  • 79% of Nicaraguans live on less than $2 a day.
  • Also, unfair trade practices keep over 400,000 coffee farmers in poverty, while U.S. coffee companies make record profits. 

The staff at Witness for Peace has organized a specialized program/delegation specifically for Montclair State University and provided a site for us in Nicaragua to organize an education/learning community to better understand the disparities of economics, politics, and most importantly, education and health.

The theme of this project is education for action. 

Upon returning, we are committed to educate and create change within our communities with the focus on Montclair State University. A classroom lecture series will be designed that will include themes regarding social disparities, including public health education, awareness, and promotion as they relate to developing countries.

Our ultimate expectation is to gain tools and skills needed to help educate our community and influence U.S. policy makers, consumers and awareness in general.

This delegation will also be part of a 3 credit MSU course.

Want to know what it's really like? Watch the multimedia presentation from the Team Nicaragua 2008 trip.

This is what some past Team Nicaragua members have to say:

"When we first arrived in Nicaragua my biggest fear was getting kidnapped. After meeting the Nicaraguan people all those fears melted away. When we did our home stay we were welcomed into the community with loving open hearts, I truly felt at home in another country. I will never forget the warmth of the country and the warmth of the people we meet."      -Jill Vanderhook, Team Nica 2008

"Nicaragua had a huge impact on my life. The people I met, what I experienced, and what Ii saw will always be an image in my head that will keep playing over and over. If I ever get the chance to go back I wouldn’t hesitate at all.”      -Cristian Valencia, Team Nica 2008

"Nicaragua was an unforgettable experience, something that will forever be with me in my heart.  The people are so humble, and although they may only have a little, they have much to offer with their hearts."      -Evelyn Milagros Sipiran, Team Nica 2008

"It was difficult to imagine the impact this trip will have on you prior to departure, but take it from me: it will change you in! Nicaragua has touched my heart in so many ways and I urge you to accept this challenge--you won't regret it!"     -Kimberly Tanella, Team Nica 2008

"This is a life changing experience. The things you will learn and the people you will meet will open your eyes to a world you never saw before and will open your consciousness to new ideas."     -Jessica Bergman, Team Nica 2008