First, this project exposes students to perspectives and accounts of the current socio-political crisis in Nicaragua through the voices and experiences of young university students like them. Thus, providing a unique opportunity to engage as citizens through the example of these Nicaraguan young activists. Second, it broadens their geographical framework of understanding conflict and social issues affecting students in other parts of the continent and fosters empathy and commitment to dialogue. For the presentations taking place in the Residential College, which will be done in Spanish and offered in the Spanish courses, students will have the opportunity to listen to presenters in their own language and without translation filters, which should underscore the relevance of studying other languages in order to access other countries realities through their own voices.
The class visits to the Residential College were extremely successful. The speakers brought images, maps and gave a thorough overview of the conflict all in Spanish. Students had previously read background material on the situation and current conditions in Nicaragua, so they were prepared to actively participate with questions.
During the Spanish lunch table, the speakers sat at different tables with students and one other instructor who facilitated very fruitful conversations with students who had not been able to attend the previous talks because they were in different classes. The speakers drew connections between different peaceful resistance movements in different countries and underscored the need for the involvement of civil society in social and political change.
The talks were attended by some 60 students in total and three instructors. The lunch table was attended by 20-30 students.
Advice to your Colleagues:
It was extremely useful to provide students with materials in advance so they would be able to follow the presentation and participate in the discussion. We highly recommend this step, particularly when we refer to other countries whose histories and situations may be less familiar.