What to Expect and How to Prepare
Expect to work hard at work worth doing, to be challenged by your surroundings and new friends. Expect to learn a great deal, and to see a beautiful, complex country.
Prior to your arrival, ATRAVES sends you an extensive orientation packet by email to help you in greater detail in your planning efforts. Most volunteers arrange for us to meet them at the airport, or the Managua bus terminal if they’re traveling overland. During your first week in Nicaragua, ATRAVES organizes an orientation for you. The program includes safety and health procedures, cultural and historical orientations, some Spanish language support according to your needs, and a primer on living well with homestay families. We also work with you to write a "personal mission statement," to help you work effectively in your host community, and together we put the finishing touches on your preliminary volunteer plans. Most volunteers destined for outside cities and towns spend a few days in Managua during their first week, often volunteering at Escuela H.D., and leave for their host communities, accompanied by ATRAVES after preparing in the capital.
We travel with volunteers to their host communities, connect them and orient them with their homestay families and the leaders of the places they work. We establish a dialogue between hosts and guests, and provide for logistical and safety concerns. We check in with volunteers on a regular basis, and help them to be as effective, creative and responsible as possible.
For many of our volunteers, Nicaragua and work with ATRAVES is a completely new experience. If this is your first time in a developing country, spend time thinking about the physical or emotional discomfort that you may encounter, and how you can deal with it productively. The climate in some areas of Nicaragua is hot and muggy, there may not always be running water, electricity or flush toilets, there may be insects, dirty streets, noise, dust, smoke. Culture shock, confusion, language barriers, and distress over economic realities are situations many volunteers face. What are bad ways to deal with this? What are good ways? We recommend that you think about these questions before you arrive, and also ask you to remember that since you cannot prepare for every situation, it is important to arrive with a creative and open mind, ready to work and make friends.