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Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Literacy and the Media (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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In this SIT program you will examine youth culture, advocacy, social change, and expression across two generations in Nicaragua and hear comparative perspectives on youth issues during an excursion to Cuba. You will be immersed in the politically charged discourse and cultural life of these two fascinating countries. This program examines the literacy campaigns of the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions as backdrop to demands for and achievements in information and expression - particularly by youth.

Resources and partners in Nicaragua include the Central American University, the Center for Research and Health Studies, the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast, Programa Feminista La Corriente, Centro de Promocion Comunitario Can Ramon, and former leaders in the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the Nicaraguan Resistance Party. Resources and partners in Cuba include the Institute of Literature and Linguistics and the Asociacion Hermanos Saiz, Taller de Transformacion, and El Principe.

Key topics of study include:

  • Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions, literacy campaigns, and contemporary challenges
  • Youth culture and expression in Nicaragua and Cuba
  • Youth and questions of access to education, healthcare, and digital media
  • Youth and issues of difference (ethnic, sexual, class and religious differences)
  • Nicaraguan literature, literary styles and spoken word

Program excursions vary each year, but will every year include short site visits, typically around Managua, and longer excursions, including one to Cuba. In the spring semester, the program travels to the city of Granada for the International Poetry Festival, where you will be immersed in Nicaraguan poetry, music and literary presentations. In the fall semester, the program is in Cuba for the annual weeklong celebration of Cuban Culture.  Short site visits may include the National Place, the Workers' Plaza, and the birthplace of Carlos Fonseca, founder of FSLN. You will also visit NGOs and human rights organizations including the Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos, the Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia, and La Correinte, an NGO that focuses on issues involving youth and sexuality.

You will frequently go to radio stations, a key form of expression and communication in Nicaragua. In Managua, you will visit the Radio Universitaria and Podcasts for Peace. In rural areas, you will visit sites such as the Radio Palabra de la Mujer in Bocana de Paiwas. You may help create vignettes and public service spots during these experiences.  Longer excursions include a small community in Nicaragua to learn about the lives of rural Nicaraguan youth. You are likely to visit communities of agricultural day laborers and/or cooperatives. You will also travel to the southern Caribbean coast to visit indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan communities and the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, which serves Miskito, Afro-Caribbean and Garifuna students.

The 10-day excursion to Cuba provides a compelling comparative case study  between Nicaragua and Cuba. Based in Havana, the academic excursion is coordinated through the Instituto de Literatura y Linguisticas. You will examine youth issues and literacy, including both traditional and modern types of communications. You will hear lectures from researchers at the Centro de Investigaciones Psicologicas y Sociologicas and visit groups like the Asociacion Hermanos Saiz, an organization of young Cuban writers and artists devoted to the artistic and literary expression of their intellectual vanguard movement. Other sites may include Taller de Transformacion, an inner-city community in central Havana.

Through a final independent study project (ISP), you will explore a specific issue related to youth culture and expression. You may conduct research for your ISP in Managua or another approved site. Sample ISP topics include:

  • Youth and radio
  • Poetry, politics and gender
  • Higher education and identity among indigenous students
  • Social media and Nicaraguan youth
  • Arts and handicrafts over generations
  • Sexual literacy and education in Nicaragua
  • Cultural expressions for Afro-Caribbean youth

Learn more about the Nicaragua: Youth Culture, Literacy and Media program and other SIT programs.

Credits: 4.5 Knox credits for the fall or spring semester

Advisor: Professor James Dyer

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022