In addition to local outreach, buildOn’s afterschool youth service programs feature global education activities that connect themes of community activism with obstacles others are overcoming around the world. Global education activities have included in-depth studies of humanitarian and woman’s rights issues plaguing the countries in which buildOn constructs schools, as well as cultural exposure programs that provide students with a crash course in a particular nation’s socio-political landscape.
Earlier in July, students from our programs in California’s Bay Area enjoyed Revolution Week, a 3 day celebration of world-altering action. A diverse number of functions were held, all focusing on the countries in which we construct schools, but perhaps none was as robust or inspiring as Nicaragua Day. An eight-hour tour through the Sandinista revolution organized and funded by the very generous non-profit MangoMundo, the events of Nicaragua Day continue to resonate with participating buildOn high school students.
Through the day, teens enjoyed presentations given in the Mission District’s beautifully mural-laden Women’s Building by local poets and journalists who participated in the United States’ Sandinista solidarity movement. Poets Daisy Zamora and Alejandro Murguía discussed the importance of verse to the Nicaraguan revolution, while journalists Daniel Del Solar, Nina Serrano, and Elaine Elinson offered accounts of how they kept the masses informed of the late-70s movement with photos and self-distributed newspapers.
Photographer Lou Dematteis also talked about his experiences capturing the action of the Sandinista, and then distributed free copies of his photobook to students. The event featured a lunch of plantains, mango salad, and a cake with buildOn’s logo catered by Sasonao Nica. Paul Katzeff, founder of Thanksgiving Coffee and a fair trade activist, provided Nicaraguan brews for sampling throughout the entire day.
Students were enthralled at the opportunity to see a political movement from a non-US vantage point. “They really opened my eyes to a completely different perspective of Nicaraguan history,” said Cindy Jiang. “Our textbooks emphasize what is important to the United States, for obvious and non-malicious reasons, but as a consequence, important events can be overlooked.” The relationship between poetry and politics also resonated with some teens. “[They told us that] every Nicaraguan is a poet,” noted Jorge Gomez.
Kathy Lien added: “We got to walk out of the building with not just free coffee and a super cool book of photographs, but with the fact that we actually learned something. It just made you think: No matter what your first intentions were or how you live your life, you’ll always have the ability to make a difference. Which was cool. I was inspired.”
A very special thanks to all the local artists and vendors who helped make Nicaragua Day so entertaining and enlightening, and a huge thanks to MangoMundo for organizing the entire function!