Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Greetings from Mexico!

Laura and I arrived two weeks ago to sunny, and rainy (depending on the time of day) Guadalajara in order to take a certification class in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It´s hard to believe, but we are already half way done with the course. We are in class from 9 - 3:15 everyday learning teaching and classroom management techniques, acquiring lesson planning skills and receiving instruction and advice on how to start setting up an English language program. After class everyday we practice teach at a neighboring English school. Everyday each trainee is assigned a different class... meaning new students, a new level and new objectives everyday. We make our own lesson plans and are observed by a trainer who then gives us tips on how to improve. I think its safe to say that we both are improving everyday and becoming more comfortable and confident in the classroom! The opportunity for us to be here will definitely serve us and the community of Batahola Norte as we begin making plans for their English program.

During the week, we don´t have too much time to see the city and explore because the course load is so heavy. But, weekends are generally our own to do with what we like! This weekend we visited a part of Guadalajara called Tlaquepaque, known for its artisans and mariachi bands (music typical to Mexico... its a group of musicians... guitarists, violinists, trumpet etc, and generally one singer). We had a fabulous time perusing the artwork and were lucky enough to catch a mariachi performance over a tall glass of ice tea. On Sunday I went rock climbing for the 1st time, with some new friends. Although I´m a bit terrified of heights and don't have much upper body strength, I gave it a go! I didn't get too high, but I did have a lot of fun and gave it my best shot (I have very sore arms to prove it).
Needless to say, our first weeks of this journey have been full and fruitful. We are sending much love to all of you - family and friends - and a big thank you to everyone who has and is making this possible. We are keeping you in our hearts, and in our prayers, too.
Much love,

Thursday, September 6, 2007

CCBN Aids Hurricane Felix Survivors

Centro Cultural Batahola Norte Action Update

Centro Cultural Batahola Norte Announces
Assistance to areas affected by Hurricane FelixMural "Nuevo Amanecer"
Managua, Nicaragua - September 6, 2007 - With reports of Hurricane Felix's devasting impact to Nicaragua's Caribbean (east) coast, the Centro Cultural Batahola Norte is cooperating with local and international organizations providing financial and material aid to the region.
See below for details on the extent of damage and how you can help with relief efforts.

Report of the Damage
The Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua is located 550km from the capital Managua. The fragile wood-slat houses of the mostly indigenous populations are dispersed among small peninsulas that extend out to the ocean, making access difficult. An estimated 200,000 Nicaraguans in the RAAN live in conditions of extreme poverty.
The Nicaraguan Army Operations Center informed that 5,505 houses have been destroyed in the entire region of the RAAN. In some communities, up to 95% of houses and other buildings were damaged. Over 35,000 people are currently affected. Crucial staple crops (rice, beans, corn) have been completely flooded out.
Help is urgently needed to feed, clothe and house the thousands of people affected. The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte is organizing in our local community to collect material aid for our compatriots in the RAAN.
We also extend this invitation to you, our international supporters, to contribute to the relief and reconstruction efforts as you are able.

How to Help
Many trustworthy local organizations working in the hardest-hit areas are responding to the emergency and can use your financial support in any amount. Funds will be used to transport material aid from Managua to the Coast and also to purchase perishible food supplies locally in the affected communities.
For tax-deductible emergency giving:
NICARAGUA NETWORK has created a special on-line donation channel for Christian Medical Action; all support will go to CMA's relief efforts. Christian Medical Action is part of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) project and will be receiving funds through UMCOR and ACT through this Advance Project Hurricanes 2007. Visit
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, a partner agency of Christian Medical Action. Visit
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH via the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Visit the UMCOR website at, go to Current Emergencies and Select Hurricanes 2007(Hurricane Dean Recovery); UMCOR Advance #982511.
CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES. Donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS or online at You can also write a check to:
Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090
Memo portion of check: Hurricane Felix
The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte is honored to collaborate with these sister organizations in relief efforts. We are inspired by our founder Sister Margarita Navarro, who worked tirelessly to mobilize assistance following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Thank you in advance for your support.
About Centro Cultural Batahola Norte

The Centro Cultural Batahola Norte is a community-based educational and cultural center, founded in 1983 to help the women and children of poor neighborhoods of Managua become self-sufficient. Our mission statement invites us "To live a more just and convivial style of life, according to the Gospels and with preference for the poor, through holistic education and culture which lead to the discovery of Human Rights, Self-Esteem and Equality."

Centro Cultural Batahola Norte
Jennifer Marshall
General Coordinator