In February, Compas received 3 service trip groups from Starr King Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (SKUUF) in Plymouth, NH; Rock Point School in Burlington, VT; and Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, VT. The SKUUF group was led by Compas board members, Robert and Jane Clay, who have now led three service trip groups to visit Compas in Nicaragua. SKUUF has been a long time supporter of Compas, having been involved with our work since Compas was founded in the early 1990's. The VT groups were led by Compas board member, Bryan Aubin, a social studies teacher at MMU, and Ryan Weiland, the Dean of Students at Rock Point School. Both Ryan and Bryan have led several trips to Nicaragua and there schools have hosted Compas dance tours several times.
The groups worked to create murals at the Women in Action Center, prepare organic fertilizer, and to begin to install a coffee drying greenhouse. SKUUF spent the first half of their trip in La Paz, while the VT groups were in Managua with Women in Action. At the halfway point of the trip, both groups met at the Laguna de Apoyo for a day of swimming, kayaking and lounging at the crystal, clear waters of the lake. The groups then switched locations, with SKUUF heading to Managua and the VT groups going to La Paz.
All three groups were able to jump start our coffee drying greenhouse project. The groups worked to dig holes for the PVC tube bases and to assembly the coffee drying screens. The PVC tube bases will support PVC tables/shelves that that will hold over 100 screens where the coffee will dry. The structure will also have a PVC tube dome with a greenhouse, plastic roof. The advantages of the greenhouse is that it will protect the coffee from the occasional rains that fall during the harvest season, maintain a higher temperature because of the plastic roof, and given the coffee will be located in suspended drying tables, it will allow air to flow underneath allowing the coffee to dry more consistently.
Bryan Aubin and Ryan Weiland said that they would be looking to return on a future trip. "The reason that I come is that I enjoy providing this kind of real learning experience to my students, which I cannot do in the classroom," Bryan said.
The SKUUF group is looking to return in two years, potentially for an all adult trip. SKUUF member Paul Phillips said, "When we first came to Nicaragua, we didn't know what to expect, but what we found is that everyone there is just so nice and so welcoming...it makes us feel at home. We were so far from home, and yet felt so near to the people there and it was just wonderful to get to know them. We've learned so much and that was the most wonderful thing---learning about Nicaragua and the culture and we have a great appreciation for everything that they do at the project."