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  • In 2006, Stephen A. Privett went to South America to learn about what Nicaraguans call la realidad.

    From my window seat on TACA flight 363 from Managua, Nicaragua to San Francisco, I could barely see the outlines of Lake Nicaragua and the contours of the northern mountains. From 30,000 feet, Nicaragua is indistinguishable from its Central American neighbors. On the ground, one sees why Nicaragua in 2005 replaced Haiti as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Rather than a detailed narrative, this letter offers some salient experiences, impressions and images from our experience. Perhaps our most poignant conversation was with a student solidarity group from El Arenal, a small cooperative farming community outside of Managua. Each of the youths spoke about the nearly insurmountable difficulties of obtaining a college education when their families earn just under $100 a month and barely survive on subsistent farming. They told us how they get up by 4 a.m. in order to walk to the highway in time to catch the bus for the one-and-a-half hour ride to the Jesuit University of Central America in Managua.

    We left El Arenal deeply impressed by just how hungry these young women and men were for a college education because of the opportunities that education opens up for them and their communities. These people really “get” the whole concept of the common good, even if they don’t use that language.
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