NicaraguaQuest


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 | Resources | Glossary

Introduction
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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.

Landscape of Nicaragua
Walk through the cities of Esteli, Leon, and Ocatal.
Enjoy beautiful Lake Managua.

Arts of Nicaragua
Explore the outdoor public art created by renown muralists.
Experience a Guenguense theater performance.
Hear Nicaraguan music.

However, Nicaragua is most known not for its landscape or artistic contributions, but for the 1979 Sandinista revolution and subsequent Contra war, in which the country rose up against its government and overseas political involvement.

Quest(ion)
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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.

Learning Goals
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By completing this WebQuest you should achieve the following learning goals:

Skill-based goals:

  • develop an increased sensitivity and empathy towards others through taking on different viewpoints
  • understand connections between the history, politics, and culture of Nicaragua
  • gain a greater understanding of the history, politics, and culture of Nicaragua

Activity goals:

  • use the power of the Internet for advanced exploration of Nicaragua.
  • learn information about six aspects of Nicaraguan culture.
  • 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.
Background
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How the Quest Works
After teams are formed, each member takes on one of the roles listed in the Quest(ion). Each member first uses the internet to find more information that will help members understand their roles. Then, the teams will work together to create a group report for the community (including the classmates and the World Wide Web community). This report presents will present the team's combined answer to the Quest(ion).

The first activity is a short one to help the team get a better understanding of Nicaraguan history and current events (and each other).

 
Background Activity:
Start here with the team to learn more about Nicaraguan facts, history, and current events.
 

Individual
Roles
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Suggested Instructions for Students:
Because Nicaragua is a complex country, it would be unwise 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.

Once you have gotten into teams, 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.

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.

Team Configuration Suggestios:
If you have six people on each team, they can each take one role (or if they work in pairs, up to12 people can be on one team). If you have less than six people on each team, you will have to choose the roles that you think would give them the best understanding.

Choosing Roles:
American Roles

Take the role of an American travelling to Nicaragua as part of the team. Your roles ask you to be active 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

Role Definitions
Now team members are ready to take on their roles. Dossiers have been prepared for each role. These contain guided instructions that should help members gain a clear understanding of the issues involved in their roles and help them understand the perspective of that role.

Click on the name of a role to receive the 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 the team has formed a perspective, they are ready to combine their knowledge into their 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.


When the team is ready, they should go to the instructions found in the
Group Report.
Evaluation/
Feedback
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  Suggestions for Further Study
  • Share the group report with others on the "Expressions of Nicaragua" site with the project submission.
  • Learn more about Nicaragua from the Resources.
  • Learn more about other examples of U.S. foreign intervention from the Resources.
  • Repeat the activity with team members in new roles.
  • Research new roles and perspectives for understanding the Nicaraguan Sandinista Revolution.
  • Communicate with people living in Nicaragua now through E-pals.
Conclusion
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Thank you for taking part in Nicaragua Quest.
The creators hope that the team has a better understanding of the complex politics involved in international relations. Through role playing we hope that the team gained an understanding of different perspectives and how they shape the lense through which we view politics.

Resources
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Resources can be found throughout the site. Use the site map below to identify specific resources.
Nicaragua Quest Site Map

Introduction Background

Landscape of Nicaragua
Esteli, Leon, and Ocatal.
Lake Managua.

Arts of Nicaragua
Outdoor public art
Guenguense theater

Nicaraguan music
.

Background Activity
Team Instructions

Nicaraguan Facts:

Travel Information
Nicaragua Facts:
World Fact Book

Nicaraguan History:
Political History
Political History Dialogue
Brief History

Current News:
NicaNews
La Prensa
Nicaraguan News
Individual Roles Group Report

American Roles
Human Rights Activist
Art Historian
U.S. Senator


Nicaraguan Roles
Nicaraguan Contra International worker
Nicaraguan teacher

Group Report Team Instructions
Glossary
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Contra
anti- Sandinista guerrillas funded by the U.S. government
Dossier
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)

Solidarity
Worker

people working together for the benefit of all the people, and not just for one person in particular
Sandinista
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)