FADCANIC´s Cultural Revitalization Program Grows in its Variety and Integrality


15 March 2018

Five year old Janner Sacarías stole the show Friday, February 2,when he appeared on stage to play a solo on a trumpet almost his own size. It was the close of FADCANIC´s 2018 Cultural Revitalization Program at Pearl Lagoon´s Academy of Excellence (PLACE) and the auditorium was jam-packed. But Janner was not intimidated at all, playing with a confidence that belied the fact that he had never held a trumpet before enrolling this January in the month-long musical course that FADCANIC has been delivering every year in Pearl Lagoon since 2007.

Like Janner, this year another 150 kids had their first encounter with a wind, percussion or string instrument and their first lessons ever on how to read scores, sing in a choir, dance in a group and play in a band.

They came from the town of Pearl Lagoon and also from the surrounding communities of Haulover, Awas and Raitipura, to learn their instrument or dance in the morning, and for afternoon group rehearsals as their readied for the program finale.

At the finale there they were joined by older folks like Mr. Kern Hebbert, who also wowed the audience with a beautiful harmonica piece before handing out course completion certificates to 25 youth and adults who took the cooking class he teaches with wife Ingrid Cuthbert.

Music and cooking arts are always featured during the Revitalization Program, as are a host of academic, vocational and sports courses that are constantly evolving to meet the interests and needs of communities across the Southern Caribbean coast region.

The 2018 program included 39 courses in varying length and formats for 750 participants coming from 21 communities in the municipalities of Bluefields, Desembocadura de Rio Grande, Kukra Hill, and Pearl Lagoon.

There was variety and continuity also in the origin of the 80 course instructors who facilitated this year´s program. FADCANIC Executive Director Ray Hooker highlighted, for example, the support the Cultural Revitalization Program in Pearl Lagoon gets from the National School of Fine Arts and from musicians and artists from the Pacific Region of the country. “This is how we are strengthening the links between the Pacific and the Caribbean of Nicaragua as national unity always has to be an important component for all types of educational training", said Mr. Ray Hooker.

This year Mr. Semmes Coe´s plumbing course was also present again in the program, representing the value of giving back to the community through volunteer work. A retired plumber, Mr. Coe pays his way from the Cayman Islands to join the Revitalization Program and has been doing so since the program began. This time around his course was attended by 12 youth who installed a new drainage system for the PLACE campus and gave maintenance to all the school´s toilets and sinks. Training this way, the local youth learn a trade that has a growing demand in Pearl Lagoon while helping to ready PLACE for the 2018 school year that starts in February.

A most welcome newcomer to the Revitalization Program this year is former Minnesota Twins pitcher Albert Williams. He too has joined in the spirit of giving back in a major way to his native Pearl Lagoon. To the delight of almost 90 young local baseball aficionados, Mr Williams teamed up with Costa Caribe Team Manager Carrel Lampson to facilitate a special baseball clinic entitled “Home Run for Equality”.

This clinic was organized by Project Baseball, a non-profit sponsored by the United States Embassy in Nicaragua to promote sports and healthy lifestyles for youth. And it was a huge success as attested by 15-year old Suleymi Casanova. “I was so happy to attend the talks they gave about the equality and respect that should always be between men and women, and I got such good advice from them (Williams and Lampson) on how to be a better catcher”, she said with a bright smile and shining eyes. Suleymi is from Haulover, she plays in the local softball leagues and was among over 30 girls in the clinic.

The gender and sports theme was also delivered in a powerful way by Soccer Without Borders volunteers who also came from the US and from Granada, on the Pacific coast of the country, to deliver the “Stop Gender Based Violence” soccer camp for 90 girls age 10 to 18.

California-based Dani Weatherholt was a principal coach at this camp. She is 23 and plays a professional soccer in the US. She emphasized the role sports can play building courage and developing leadership skills of girls. “The game can make them stronger and teach them how to trust each other and become more self-confident,” she assured.

For five years now, the Revitalization Program also included a workshop geared towards sports instructors and physical education (PE) teachers, on sports-based strategies to strengthen the life skills of youth. This workshop is sponsored by FADCANIC and USAID´s Education for Success Project (EFS) and was facilitated by Former professional basketball player Henry Fenton from Bluefields. As Fenton explained, the purpose of this particular training is to learn “how to apply sports dynamics that can teach us how to plan our lives, and set short and long term goals for ourselves. It also covers how to promote participation, teamwork, smart play, relaxation and emotional control in sports practice and in our daily lives", he summed up.

The 20 teachers in who attended the EFS sports life skill training will be applying the method with their students during PE classes and in the after school sport activities the project promotes for primary and secondary youth who are risking school failure. Through this strategy, these youth will be encouraged to apply the planning, goal-setting, confidence-building, and emotional skills they learn in PE to improve their overall school performance.

Improving the quality of education is also the goal of English and History course organized this year for 15 primary teachers from Orinoco, Kahkabila, Haulover, Tasbapauni and other communities around the Pearl Lagoon basin. This particular course was delivered by PhD Trent Hagar who headed a team of three language instruction specialists sponsored by the US Embassy ASSETS Program. The training included class management techniques, development of learning materials, and how to build quality relations with learners.

EFS´ vocational package geared to out of school and out of work youth sponsored also introduced new courses for motorcycle repair and therapeutic massage, in this edition of the Cultural Revitalization Program. The 11 youth who the motorcycle course did their practice fixing broken bikes belonging to the municipal government that had been out of commission for over a year already precisely because they aren´t many mechanics in town.

The massage vocational course was held in Bluefields in coordination with the Psychosocial Care Center (CAPS) to incorporate youth with disabilities among the 17 who completed this training. They learned Japanese-style massage techniques to relieve stress and improve circulation for example of pregnant women. Luis Gámez, who is 25 and has a hearing impairment, tried out his new facial massaging skills with a fisherman who lives near his house, “and it went so well that he even gave me a tip,” Luis said proudly.

In addition to the various training courses, the 2018 Cultural Revitalization Program was complemented by a variety of other community-based activities including:
 Videos forums, educational talks, and a basketball tournament organized by FADCANIC´s Mass Media Campaign Against Youth Violence and Drug Abuse
 The third edition of the Youth Entrepreneurship Build to Learn Workshop facilitated by students from the Upper Iowa University in the US
 Free optometric services delivered for the 16th consecutive year by the Williams College, VOSH New England and Restoring Vision`s Eye Care Brigade

FADCANIC´s Cultural Revitalization Program is funded since 2008 by the Norwegian Student and Academic Fund for International Assistance (SAIH). It is also supported by HORIZONT3000, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Office of the Embassy of the United States in Nicaragua.

USAID Nicaragua Deputy Director Robert Works toured the Cultural Revitalization Program this year to learn more about the courses delivered there with the support of the American people.

The Cultural Revitalization Program 2018 wrapped up another successful year with a show led by this year´s music and art participants followed by a tasting of dishes and snacks prepared by the cooking class learners.

Thanks to the staff at PLACE at the helm of all Cultural Revitalization Program activities. They mobilize participants, organize and manage the courses throughout December and January when all other others schools in the region are closed, and still, come February, they are always back at PLACE and fully ready for the new school year.

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