Photograph by Claudia von Vacano
Mexican Alfonso Villanueva, with Genaro Lugo, Orlando Sobalvarro ande Xavier Orozco
Figure with raised fist flanked by rifles
About 1980, 3x10m

Introduction | Quest(ion) | Background | Individual Roles | Group Process | Feedback | Conclusion | Glossary

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What are the cultural treasures and natural wonders of Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America? If like most people from North America, you have never had the experience of visiting Nicaragua you might want to take a tour. Walk through the cities of Esteli, Leon, and Ocatal. Enjoy beautiful Lake Managua. Explore the outdoor public art created by renown muralists. Experience a Guenguense theater performance. Hear Nicaraguan music. However, Nicaragua is best recognized not for its landscape or artistic contributions, but for the 1979 Sandinista revolution and subsequent Contra war, in which the country rose up in hope only to be let down by US interference.


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Form an opinion of the Nicaraguan Sandinista Revolution.

To do this effectively, a special research team is being assembled with delegates from both inside and outside of Nicaragua. They will meet in Nicaragua to investigate the country, the people, and the culture. Instead of sending only diplomats or politicians, the team will comprise of people from very different backgrounds so that the facts they find present demonstrate as much truth about Nicaragua as possible. It's hoped that instead of bringing back stereotypes and postcards, the team members will come away with an accurate and informed perspective.

By completing this WebQuest you should achieve the following goals:

  • gain an increased sensitivty towards others through understanding the culture they grew up in and the politics they live with
  • develop an interest in the study of Nicaragua.
  • use the power of the Internet for advanced exploration of Nicaragua.
  • learn information about six aspects of Nicaraguan culture.
  • realize that complex topics can be looked at from various perspectives.
  • formulate and support an argument from one of the six perspectives.
  • work with your teammates to problem-solve a combined action plan.
  • question the nature of international relations in our more interdependent world.

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You should be able to achieve these goals by completing a process where you join a team and take on one of the roles listed in the Quest(ion). First you will choose roles and use the internet to find more information that will help you take on your role. Then, you and your teammates will work together to create a group report for the audience (also known as your classmates and the World Wide Web community). This report presents your team's combined answer to the Quest(ion). You can use a Rubric to see how your work might be evaluated.

The first activity is a short one to help you and your teammates get a better understanding Nicaraguan history and current events (and to know your teammates better).

Background Activity:
Nicaraguan facts, history, and current events

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Because Nicaragua is a complex country, it would be silly to look at it from only one perspective. If you only looked at its art, you might miss its changing politics. If you only looked at its government, you might miss important aspects of the people themselves. So the plan here is to divide expertise and look from as many perspectives as you have teammates Read the following instructions to get underway. Try to identify with the concerns of your role.

Looking at Issues from Different Perspectives
Based upon the issues your team clustered, now choose which roles you will each take. Use the goal statements below to help you decide.

Note: If you have six people on your team, you can each take one role (or if you work in pairs, up to12 people can be on one team). If you have less than six people on your team, you will have to choose the roles that you think would give you the best understanding. Will you choose similar roles or very different ones? You decide.Once you have completed the above experiences, you are ready to accept a role, research that role, and prepare for discussion. Let it be understood that you might not agree with the perspectives or opinions of this role. Despite your own opinions and perspectives, you will be required to discuss your role's perspective with your classmates. Form into groups of five and choose one of the roles below:

American Roles
Take the role of an American travelling to Nicaragua as part of the team. Your roles ask you to be acitve defenders of your values. Depending on the role you choose, you will be focusing on the needs of local people, art, or international relations. Think about how your perspectives would (or would not) be different if you were a resident of Nicaragua

Role: Goal:
Human Rights Activist to ensure that people are treated with fairness
Art Historian to understand and preserve art
U.S. Senator to balance the goals of others and support U.S. interests

Nicaraguan Roles
Take the role of a Nicaraguan resident meeting up with the Americans in your fact finding team. To understand what it would be like to be these people and to take on their roles, you will hear the words of individuals who live/lived these roles in real life. Listen to their stories and imagine what it would be like to be in "their shoes." Then answer the questions posed in the dossier.

Role: Goal:
Nicaraguan Contra to oppose the Sandinista government
International worker for the Nicaraguan government to provide support to residents of Nicaragua through building a hydro-electric dam
Nicaraguan Teacher to support educational needs of Nicaraguans

Now that you have chosen which roles you and your teammates will take, you're ready to become an expert. Dossiers have been prepared for each role. These contain guided instructions that should help you gain a clear understanding of the issues involved in your role and help you understand the perspective of that role.

Click on the name of your role to receive your Dossier

Human Rights Activist Nicaraguan Contra
Art Historian International worker
U.S. Senator Nicaraguan teacher


Group Process
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  Now that each member of your team has formed a perspective, we're ready to combine what each of you has learned into your Group Report. This is not easy because you and your teammates each feel differently based upon what you feel is most important It looks like your team is going to have to dig deeper to come up with a compromise plan that will combine what you all think is important. We know the answer is not easy. That's because the issues raised are real! In the following group activity, you and your teammates will work through a process to help you form a group opinion.

Click on the link below to go to the activity.
Group Report.
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  And you thought you were finished! Forming an opinion about something so complex can be difficult. But unless you test your ideas with real people, all you've done is to role-play. You can look for
contacts in your school or local community or use the Internet to make a connection. If you decide to find a real world contact from the Internet, you can use the links found in ContraQuest (and more!) in the Website below. Use the instructions below to finish the project.
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We hope that by being a part of ContraQuest you now have a better understanding of the complex politics involved in international relations. Through role playing we hope that gained an understanding of different perspectives and how they shape the lense through which you view politics.

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anti- Sandinista guerrillas funded by the U.S. government
a collection of papers containing detailed information about a particular person or subject (usually a person's record)
FSLN Sandinista National Liberation Front (in Spanish, Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional)


people working together for the benefit of all the people, and not just for one person in particular
a Nicaraguan guerrilla group that overthrew Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979; named for CÈsar Augusto Sandino, a hero of Nicaraguan resistance to U.S. military occupation (1927-33)