Monday, November 28, 2016

Whole Haitian Experience

Ultimately I enjoyed the trip to Haiti. It was an experience I may not ever get again. I got the opportunity to teach Haitian students about things that I grew up knowing and learning. Not only did I do some teaching, but the Haitians taught me two important things. One being that just because a farming practice works in eastern Iowa, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work anywhere else. The second thing they taught me is probably the most important. The Haitians taught me to not take for granted what I have. I am lucky enough to eat a meal 3 times a day everyday, which not many Haitians have that luxury.
One of my favorite things that I got the opportunity to teach the Haitians was that they can use animal manure as a fertilizer for their plants and add organic matter to their soil. Explaining to the Haitians that that they should pick up the manure from anywhere they see it, even if its on the side of the road. We suggested that they walk around with buckets and scoops to pick it up. At that point they thought us Americans were absolutely crazy that we collect manure. So one days while we were walking to the students gardens we picked up the manure we seen on the way, and added the manure into the soil around their plants. With the Haitians still thinking we were crazy, we continued to tell them that they can use peels from their fruit can be worked into the soil for the same reasons. Not that an orange or banana peel will necessarily  fertilize the plants, but they will add organic matter and help with potassium amount of in the soil. By adding organic matter you can improve the soil conditions to grow a better crop. If they improve their crop, they will have more fruit and vegetable to eat or sell at the market.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Whatever Floats the Haiti Goats!

Being in Haiti was an experience for all of us, no one really prepares you for what you will see or hear, but it’s a great experience to get the opportunity to have. While we were there each one of us took the time to talk to the agriculture students at the university, about the practices of agriculture at home, since it’s A LOT different than it is in Haiti. It worked out perfect, because each one of us Ag students come from different backgrounds, our professor that went on the trip Meghan, and Mitch have great crop farming back ground, Dalton and Kyle come from Hog raising backgrounds. And I was kind of the odd one out, I come from a dairy cow and goat operation.

One day while we were there we went to look at the universities goat herd, which was one thing that I was interested and excited to see how it compares to some in the United States. In all reality what they have or did, doesn’t compare to operations in the U.S, it was basically an open pasture, that didn’t have much grass, with 25 goats. The animal science professor from the university came out to talk to us about the goats, and he grabbed one and then started to show us what he was talking about. On this particular goat he had, she has an infection in her ear, he was then explaining that he was going to treat the infection with some antibiotic. But like any person with a farm animal background, you have to be care what you give an animal, because if that animal is pregnant that medicine you give it could abort the baby she is carrying.  With this goat, the professor started to explain how they preg check, which is not the most ethical thing, and something that no one in the United States would ever think about doing to their animals. They preg check by, cutting off the goats airways, and waiting for its 2 back legs to shake, once they begin to shake, they let go so the goat doesn’t pass out. When they let go, if the goats pee’s its pregnant and if it doesn’t she open. Me being from a dairy goat operation, I didn’t believe in the science of it and told him I wouldn’t try that on the goats at home. But whatever was Floating his Goat!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fianl Thoughts From Costa Rica

My final month here in Costa Rica has been far more eventful than I could have imagined. The first weekend I took my first ferry ride from Puntarenas to Paquera. It was a different experience to take a boat as public transport. Once we arrived in Paquera we had a two kilometers hike to the beach to see the phenomenal bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is when living organisms naturally produce light. It occurs widely in marine life and in some invertebrate animals, such as fireflies. Because the bioluminescence is activated by touch, we waited until nightfall and kayaked through the water. As the paddles of the kayak and our hands touched the water, the brightness increased. Running my hand through the water and seeing it light up made me feel a sense of power, as if I had some sort of “magic touch.”
First time riding on a ferry and enjoying phenomenon of bioluminescence

  The next day our group traveled to Montezuma. There were many people there, both tourists and locals. We all camped on the beach and my friends and I met a local man who took me fishing the next day. We went fishing in Playa Tambor, about 15 kilometers away from Montezuma. The fishing spot was populated by locals only and I enjoyed seeing how Ticos and Ticas spend their weekends.
Camping on a beach in  Montezuma

Enjoying fishing with  my new friend in Playa Tambor

The following weekend we traveled to Monteverde, approximately 140 kilometers from San José. This weekend was full of adrenaline-pumping excitement. The first day we all went zip lining and on a Tarzan Swing. I had never been on a Tarzan Swing before and that was an extremely exhilarating experience. The next day was nerve-wracking. We went bungee jumping from the tallest bungee jump in Central America! It took me four minutes to gather the courage to finally jump! During the long ride back to Chepe (what the locals call San José) I could still feel my heart racing.

Monkeying around after bungee jumping. What a nerve-wracking experience!

That week my friends and I went to una partido de fútbol (soccer game). I was supporting Saprissa, my Mama Tica’s favorite team. The game ended in a draw between Saprissa and Limón. I enjoyed talking to other fans of the game and bantering with fans of the opposite team. As my Spanish improves, I am more confident and am able to showcase my personality in both English and Español.

¡Vamos Saprissa!

My final weekend here was spent entirely with my host family and roommate. We all went out to dinner at a local restaurant and had a lovely last supper. Realizing that I have to leave the people I have called family over the last semester has taken a bit of an emotional toll on me. I have grown so attached to the people and even pets. The relationships I have made over the last semester will be carried in a special place in my heart forever. Although I will miss Costa Rica, I am excited to return to my home in Iowa
La cena final con mi familia

Thursday, March 31, 2016

STUDY ABROAD IN COSTA RICA 3 ( weekend in Nicaragua).

View from the hotel I stayed in Granada

Pictures with some street performers.

Inside and view from the prison.

                                         I learned a lot about pottery then made one with the help of an employee.

The first picture is La Sombra de Sandino ( The shadow of Sandino overlooks Nicaragua from the site of his 1934 assassination)
The second Image is La antigua Catedral de Managua (Old Cathedral of Managua)

                                         Tour of Managua using horse carriage

                                              MASAYA VOLCANO
The food there was delicious, and there was a large variety. It depends on the province what kind of food you eat, and my hotel was near a market which allowed me to try a lot of different types of food.

The first one is called pebre (Skin of pig's head). It was in the fridge for a while, I had to microwave it to make soupy.
The second one is called sopa de mondogo ( made from the stomach of a cow, slowly cooked with different vegetables).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Getting to Haiti

I had the opportunity to visit Haiti, January 1st - January 9th 2016. Our trip all started in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with two professors from the agriculture department, two grad students from UNI, and 2 former agriculture students from Hawkeye, along with one current student at Hawkeye other than myself. While checking in at the airport, we were asked by the airport staff, “What was bringing us down to Haiti?” We basically told them we were going down for mission work.  Out of nowhere our baggage tags had priority stickers and our seats changed from the economy seats at the back of the plane to first class, without any of us even noticing. We went on with our interesting flight schedule and landed in Chicago, after spending a couple hours in the airport, we continued, looking out the window of the plane, looking down on Chicago at night was amazing. After leaving Chicago we continued to Charlotte, North Carolina, then to Miami where we spent the night.

The next day we finally landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Going through the Port Au Prince airport was an interesting experience in itself. I have never been approached by so many people wanting to know if I wanted to buy a souvenir or if we wanted help carrying our bags, but we were told no matter what to tell them no. When they asked for a tip, because they walked you to your car, you politely tell them to talk to your driver, eventually they will give up and leave you alone. Then began the 3 hour ride up the mountains to Cayman, where we were staying. Nothing prepares you for the roads in Haiti because as JeanJean says “Iowa has level B roads and Haiti has level Z roads.” We consider a gravel road in Iowa the worst roads to drive on, driving in Haiti makes our gravel roads feel like an interstate.  Roads in Haiti are dirt roads, with deep roots in the middle of the roads. Improving the roads in Haiti aren’t always a main concern because statistically only 2% of people have cars and 5% have a motorcycle.

After a long bumpy ride we finally arrived and settled. We then took a tour of the UCI Campus. After 10 years, UCI has improved, they now have a university, 7 nutrition centers, 2 worshiping centers, an elementary school, a medical center, and land for university gardens and animals. After our tour of the UCI campus we then went to take a tour of a local farmer’s crop land. The man showed us how he irrigated his gardens, he has raised rows of crops, then runs water through the channels, and he only waters his garden every 15 days.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Use Your Manure

This morning started by visiting the 5th and 6th graders again. We discussed the questions they had from yesterday but went more in depth with fertilizer and rabbits. We showed them how you can use manure, plant material but more so the sugarcane remains called bagaz and compost and how it is a good fertilizer source to the crops and the soil.

Animal raising is a very well known agriculture production practice here in Haiti. The only thing is that it is much different then how we do it in the United States. Two students today, one of them being myself discussed hog production and dairy goat production practices used in the United States. It was very informational because us teaching them  also gave the opportunity to learn more about how they raise these animals in there own country. Lots of questions were answered by us and the students. After the discussion they thanked us and we're very grateful for what we were doing to help them learn of what is possible for agricultural practices here that they can improve on and we were even grateful that we were able to make discussions and share ideas in production practices.

Next was a little bit of time spent teaching English to the third graders. We taught them some colors and walked them around outside asking them what objects were and how to say it in English and even what color the objects were. We even asked a few students what the word was in Kreyol. 

The campus has got a few goats. They showed us what they do with the goats and we even got to pick up them and hold them and pet them. They told us a way to preg check is they hold the mouth and nose shut and when they start shaking there leg then let go and if they pee then they are considered pregnant. 

After playing with the goats we got to walk on a hike to the bat caves up a mountain. Only a few of us though decided to walk farther into the cave and do some rock wall climbing to a different exit farther up the mountain. It was a very long walk where we saw a lot of bats in the caves and different places that voodoo drawings were drawn at. The hike was a short 4 miles there and back but it was a good workout to help work off my winter fat.

To end our day, we went to a church service. People from all over the town walk to church no matter what day. Religion is a big part in Haiti and they come to sing and pray and have a good time. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

From Garden to Market

We started out on January 4th by going to a market. Everything could be bought that was imaginable. All of the students tried to buy a goat for a family in need of one but when our group was seen as the buyers, the price jumped dramatically. Since the goat purchase was not successful, we decided to go to the local bakery and buy some delicious bread made by hand.

After the market, we took a walk to Saul's irrigation farm that the UCCC students also utilize and plant a variety of crops. The irrigation garden has a cement channel that runs through it with water that is pumped out and used for the growth of crops.

Teaching first graders after lunch was an experience that was quite something with words from the colors to the months to even a dance session.

Feeding centers in the neighborhood are used for children to get a bite to eat two times a week. There are eight of these centers and we got the opportunity to help hand out the food and then play some games with the children. Each child brings there own bowl and spoon and handed us the bowl to be filled with a rice and beans mixture that even though was very hot, it was consumed in a very quick manner.

January 5th began with a morning of teaching 5th and 6th graders about agriculture. This was even a very good experience to learn more about the agriculture used in Haiti. We then took a trip back to the irrigation gardens to take soil samples with the college students that was later tested. While at the gardens we got to hand plant leeks and to give some suggestions to the students on how to better the production of how they were growing the crops.

Later on in the evening we went out to the classroom with the students that pulled soil samples and tested them for N, P, K, and pH. We then described to the students the importance of the nutrients in the soil.

The long day ended with a few games of volleyball and then supper and a few more games with the students and some visitation time to learn more about them.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

On the "Level Z" to Haiti

I am a student from Hawkeye Community College studying abroad in Haiti for the week with 2 faculty members and 6 students and then 2 farmers traveling with us. We will be traveling from January 1,2016 to January 9, 2016.

Our trip has been a wonderful time starting with the airplane ride. When getting to the airport in Cedar Rapids, it was mentioned what we were doing and ended up on first class from Chicago all the way to Haiti. Our trip though was long because we spent a few hours in airports starting at Cedar Rapids then to Chicago, then out to Charlotte and then Miami before flying to Port Au Prince. After arriving in Haiti we took a 3 hour road trip up the mountains. According to JeanJean the roads here are not level B they are level Z. We got here and got settled in with a campus tour.

Today started out by going to a Sunday school with the little children and then a church session learning about god and his work preached by JeanJean himself. After that we took a bus that has been shortened out to a feeding center to hand out Christmas presents to little Haitian boys and girls. After the handing out of presents we took a drive out to an irrigated garden where the farmer was growing black beans and while we were there he was irrigating it with a pump and having trenches that he allowed the water to flow down. He mentioned that he irrigates the black beans every 8 days and plantains were every 15 days and it takes about 3 hours to irrigate his whole garden. During the dry season he grows black beans and in the wet season it is planted in corn. The beans take around 1 and a half months and corn takes 3 months before harvest.

The final thing done today was a delicious supper of chicken legs and some noodles made by JeanJean’s sister before finally taking a rest for the day under the shade tree talking to one another and having a guest named Nelson who used to be a voodoo witch doctor who is now converted over to the church.