Service Learning

Simmons Volunteers

Service/Learning is a dynamic concept in higher education, involving a creative interplay between (on the one hand) observation, reflection, reading, writing, and theory under faculty supervision, and (on the other hand) immersion in the practical realities of community service.  Simmons College in Boston offered college-level academic credit for Service/Learning courses in San Juan del Sur for many years. College and High School instructors interested in developing curricula for Service/Learning experiences in Nicaragua should contact

General information on the Simmons Service Learning Program

Sample Syllabus (from 2010):

IDS (Inter-Disciplinary Seminar) 228: SERVICE-LEARNING IN NICARAGUA 2009/10
David Gullette:, 521-2215, MCB C310D. Meetings in TBA 8am Thursdays.

Sep 3: GENERAL ORIENTATION. General discussion of travel to Nicaragua, how Service-Learning works, community service opportunities in San Juan, home stays, journaling, final paper, etc. There are two books to buy: The Best of What We Are, by John Brentlinger, and ¡GASPAR! A Spanish Poet/Priest in the Nicaraguan Revolution, by David Gullette. The rest of the reading is in hand-outs. Read my “Nica Lexicon.” You should also read El Nuevo Diario and La Prensa online, and subscribe to the Nicaragua Network Hotline.
First writing assignment: Write a paragraph each about five or six things you learned about literacy in Nicaragua from reading Miller and M. Gullette.

Sept 10 & 17: THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERACY: Excerpts from Valerie Miller: Between Struggle and Hope: The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade; Margaret M. Gullette: “Florcita la Suerte” (about the women’s literacy campaign in San Juan in the 1990s). Current articles about remembering the Crusade of 1980, and the state of literacy today. Get ¡GASPAR! Study questions today.

Second writing assignment, due next Thursday Sept 24: Write up answers to the first six Gaspar study questions.
Third writing assignment, due next Thursday Oct 1: Write up answers to the rest of the Gaspar study questions.

Sept 24 & Oct 1: LIBERATION THEOLOGY AND REVOLUTION I: David Gullette: ¡GASPAR! (have the entire book read and study questions prepared). Get handouts for next time.
Fourth writing assignment, due next Thursday Oct 8: What major points of interest did you find in the story of the Solentiname community’s journey toward consciousness raising?

Oct 8 & 15: LIBERATION THEOLOGY AND REVOLUTION II: David Gullette: “Consciousness, Poetry and Rebellion: The Peasant Poets of Solentiname”; passages from The Gospel in Solentiname; The Best of What We Are pp. 69-97, 308-316; William Blum, excerpt from Killing Hope. Get handouts for next time.
Fifth writing assignment, due next Thursday Oct 22: What is Paul Farmer so angry about?

Oct 22 & 29: WATER & THE POLITICS OF HEALTHCARE: excerpts from Paul Farmer: Infections and Inequalities; Ruth Herrera: “Luchemos todos contra la Privatizacion del Agua; various handouts about water issues around the world. Discuss Newton’s Clean Water/Anti-Parasite Campaign. Oct 29: Get Workbook for next time.
Sixth writing assignment, due next Thursday Nov 5: Write up answers to the first three questions below. Then: what did you learn from the Workbook.

Nov 5 & 12: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF DEVELOPMENT: What is the “Washington Consensus” (neoliberal) model of economic development? What are the alternatives? What is “Appropriate Technology”? Discuss workbook for We Have Other Plans. (We’ll screen the video during class.) Discuss opportunities for working in Appropriate Technology in January (see DG article).

Seventh writing assignment: What did you learn about gender relations from reading Brentlinger’s conversations with Norma, and from the Comision Report?

Eighth writing assignment: Write several paragraphs of reflections about Connell’s chapter about Nicaraguan women’s organizations. Alternative: Read Ziolamerica’s testimony and write a few pages about your reaxtion to it.

Nov 19 & Dec 3: FEMINISM, MACHISMO AND SEXUAL CRIMES: Conversations with Norma in The Best of What We Are (13-152); Report of San Juan’s Comision de la Niñez y Adolescencia about sexual abuse and exploitation, and the growing problem of sex tourism in San Juan del Sur; also read proposal for a Battered Women’s Shelter in SJ. Read about Daniel Ortega’s step-daughter’s accusation against him. Read Dan Connell’s chapter on Nicaraguan women in Rethinking Revolution: New Strategies for Democracy and Social Justice (pp. 155-176).


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