I woke up around 6 or 7 am to get a nice light breakfast; Gallo pinto (Rice and beans), cantaloupe, and pineapples. Today was also the first day of class. So we (a group of 22) took a stroll out in the heat and toward our classroom.

Once inside, Dr. Laura Parajón, MD, MPH, introduced herself to us alongside some other staff members. We then began class learning about the background, missions, and values of AMOS. It was taught by Dr. Laura, whose father was also a doctor and founder of AMOS. He held the belief that doctors should be teachers who educate people how to care for themselves and others. AMOS likewise adopted a model known as Community-Based Primary Health Care, which originated in China. It posits that primary health care services, such as health promotion and disease prevention, is provided in the community by health professionals. It involves interaction between NGOs (AMOS in this case), community leaders, Government, and hospitals. Though a brief summary, a link with more information about AMOS is here.

After this fascinating lesson, we proceeded to learn about the history of Nicaragua. We had the pleasure of meeting Aynn Setright, a professor who teaches history at the UNAN university in Nicaragua. This amazing woman has been in Nicaragua since 1985 and stayed ever since. I enjoyed her style of teaching: She wanted us to ask her question to answer. Everyone had something interesting, such as: “Are Nicaraguans supportive of their Government?” “What do you find most interesting about Nicaragua history?” and “What are some public health issues Nicaraguans face?”  Thinking back to my Demographics and Population studies course in college, I asked her what the demographics were in Nicaragua and how they changed over time.

She would then organize the lecture by going from the past to current day Nicaragua and answering questions based on where they fit on the timeline. She answered them pretty well, explaining in detail the political, economic, and religious factors that lead to changes over time. Some topics of great importance included the Spanish conquest, the Somoza family dynasty, Sandinista Revolution, and US relations with Nicaragua.

We moved onto the next module: Cultural Competency. Some things covered included Nicaragua terminology and customs such as:

  • “Tuani” pronounced as too-ah-nee (awesome) and “maje” pronounced as mah-hey (fool)
  • “chele”, pronounced as che-lay (White), “chinito” (Chinese), and “morreno” pronounced mo-ray-no but rolling the r (Black).
  • Pointing with a finger is considered rude. Instead, you use your lips to point.
  • At the end of class, we all gave each other a hug and said “feliciones”, a word often used to wish someone well.

It was a great first day of classes, yet tons of information to process!!!

After class, we took a trip to the Plaza de la Fe Juan Pablo II (pictured above) where the trees of life glow. There, we walked through a small replica of Managua prior to a devastating earthquake in 1972 and went on a tour to learn about the revolutionary  Augusto Cesar Sandino. We browsed through his replica town of Niquinohomo, Masaya with cobblestone roads and colonial-style homes, learning about his lifestyle service in war and lifestyle. The homes featured tiled floors, antique photos of Sandino and family, wooden furniture, and a bronze statue of him in the back patio. The tour lasted perhaps a good hour, then we left to go find some food.

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I had ceviche in a cup (a sour dish that includes onions, fish, lemon, and lettuce). While chatting with people, I suddenly witnessed a lizard devouring a moth on the ceiling! What a sight!

We returned to AMOS soon and called it a night around 10:30.


Spanish conquest

Like other Latin American countries, Spanish conquistadores conquered the land in search of Gold. They ruled the Pacific region, with 75% of the indigenous population wiped out from a disease. Some of the indigenous were moved to Matagalpa and others to Peru to aid in the conquest of South America. After indigenous populations disappeared, Africans were then brought over to the East. Conquistadores lasted 300 years with the formation of social classes. Those with light skin had largest land holding, economic power, and religious power.

In order to not overwhelm you with the history/facts of Nicaragua, fact bits will be included in future posts.




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