My trip to Nicaragua – Teaching


So, you may remember that about a month ago (when I got back to regular blogging) that one of my lame excuses was that I spent 12 days in Nicaragua. It’s true. I’ve got the intestinal distress to prove it. (To be truthful, I did OK since I kept myself on a steady diet of chewable Pepto-Bismol. It was only after getting home that I got sick.)

How did this come about, you might ask? Well, the small town I live has a sister city in Nicaragua – Leon, to be specific. My wife and I went down five years ago as chaperons with the Gettysburg College Choir, and it was a powerful experience. We stayed with host families, visited schools and NGOs (non-governmental organizations), saw sites both amazing and heartbreaking.

A few years ago I was at a small comic con, sitting next to Marek Bennett and I asked what he’d been up to. He said he had just gotten back from Nicaragua – his small town in New Hampshire has a sister city there – where he had been doing a comics cultural exchange*. Wait a sec, I said to myself, I wanna do that.

Things moved pretty fast after that…a little too fast. Project Gettysburg-Leon was ready to send me right away. But I wasn’t ready, and then I ended up in grad school working on my MFA, and figured I could do this project for my practicum.

I ended up being the adult leader for eleven students from Gettysburg College. At one of our meetings before we left I did a little comics exercise with them. I had them do an 8-page mini comic about their lives. I then scanned them, our student leader translated them into Spanish and we copied them to take with us.

The example of my personal "Day in the life..." where every other panel has me changing my son's diaper. (Now THAT'S comedy!)


We did a lot of stuff that wasn’t comics-related – helping to build solar ovens, etc. I did my stuff in conjunction with Taller Artistico Xuchialt, a community based art school. We did an 8-page “Day in the life…” mini-comic, starting with getting up in the morning and ending with going to sleep – then we filled in the rest. We did three sessions at the school, mixing Gettysburg students with theirs. And it worked just the way I had hoped (even without me prompting) – as they drew, they shared their lives.


I also did a session with the instructors of Taller Artistico Xuchialt. They asked me to show them some stuff on expressions in cartooning, and how I use computers in my work. There was a bit of trickiness with the latter since their version of PhotoShop was much, much newer than mine, and everything in PhotoShop was in Spanish. So I had to feel my way around, remembering where menus are and such. I felt like I was in a half-remembered neighborhood trying to recall landmarks.


* Marek even did a comics travel journal about his experience.

3 Responses to “My trip to Nicaragua – Teaching”

  1. Marek Says:

    Thanks for the mention, J! Hurray for crazy comics conventions’ coincidental contiguity!

  2. inkelves Says:

    Wow very inspiring! …and I love your comic :D

  3. jeane Says:

    its great to hear more people getting out there and spreading the comics love around;)
    (and very cool about working with the ladies to make those solor ovens…had to go read more about them very cool idea!).

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