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This page is unlocked. That means members can add in news that you think is interesting or relevant. Just use the edit tab, an edit bar will appear and you can set the cursor and begin typing. I (Dr. T) will be editing and adding and deleting regularly.


This is an updated Health information page if anyone is interested.
http://www.travmed.com/guide/country.php?c=Nicaragua


May 26
  • People have asked me about gifts for the host family. These should be modest and, perhaps, you would prefer to wait and see for yourself what would be fun and appropriate. If you want to take something from here, however, our advice is that the best things are location specific, items that have a UNM logo, or Albuquerque, or New Mexico theme. One tip - The five favorite sports in Nicaragua are 1) Baseball 2) Baseball 3) Baseball 4) Baseball and 5) Soccer (FĂștbol). (Nicaraguans are also very big on equestrian games) At any rate, there is no such thing as too many baseball caps and those with a Lobo or Isotopes logo would be great.

  • Touching on gifts, the people we will come to know in Granada, the host families and the Casa Xalteva people have a very modest standard of living by US standards. They are, however, much better off than most Nicaraguans. So Bring a box or two of pens and a few small toys to give to desperately poor people. Many children in rural areas (even at the margins of Granada) have never had a manufacured toy or a pencil of their own to write with. We do not have time to organize a formal project to bring supplies for the poor, but on an individual basis, we can do these small things that will make a huge difference to poor people. We are headed to a very poor country and especially in rural areas, we will encounter people who have almost nothing. Marbles, balls, jacks, etc. really inexpensive toys can brighten the life of a child who has never had a toy.

May 24
  • Hopefully everyone is getting registered. It always takes time to get people properly grouped into Spanish classes and the over-rides issued.
  • People are not going to be able to register for SPAN 203 until Dr. Lamadrid returns from Peru at the end of May. Then he can issue the over-rides.The big day when everyone should be registered and tuition and all fees (including our program fee) are finally due is June 1 at 5:00pm.
  • June 4 is when people are disenrolled if they owe money that is not in their bursar account - sometimes these are things like lab fees or unpaid library fines. If you are disenrolled, don't panic. You will simply have to find out why you were disenrolled, address the problem, and then re-register. Jessica will be helping people with this issue.
  • We are working on the Schedule for the June 4, 5, and (if needed) 6 orientation sessions. Here is a "penciled-in" schedule that is sure to change in details but should give you an idea of what to expect in terms of times.
  • Everyone should read these wiki pages: Culture Shock and Ethical Tourism before June 4.
  • The 2012 Cuaderno is finished. All students will get a hard copy to use as a workbook/scrapbook. You can download it and check it out here.
  • The Cuadernito de Mayo will be due June 4.
  • To have access to money in Nicaragua - the best way is to have money in an account that you can access with a debit card. You can use debit cards in Nicaragua to withdraw funds either in dollars or Cordovas. Or you can get cash advances on a credit card. You can bring dollars. You can use either dollars or Cordovas for 99% of transactions. If you are planning to use a debit or a credit card in Nicaragua, be sure to call you bank or credit union to inform them that you will be using the card outside the country.
  • We are getting closer and closer to the beginning of Conexiones/Nicaragua/2012. As you think about what you need to take with you, consult the wiki. Many questions are addressed there and there's lots of information. Here are some relevant pages:
    1) Packing list
    2) Personal First Aid Kit
    3)Tropical Travel Necessities and Suggestions - this page is unlocked, so feel free to add suggestions, comment or editorialize
  • SPAN 203-031. You can register for this course in addition to your other Spanish course. This is an option we created that will allow people to get three additional hours of Spanish Credit for their Conexiones work. No extra work is involved. If you register for this class you will simply be awarded the credits and receive the same grade you get for your other Spanish class (200, 301, or 439). We have also created a way for students to take advantage of this option without having to make a larger tuition payment. If you want to take this option - let me know.
  • People should make every effort to complete the "Short Term Participant Packet" paperwork, " medical consultations, passport scans, etc.as soon as you can. The absolute deadline is June 4, the first day of the orientation session. All of this must obviously be complete and given to OIPS at that time. The more we have assembled prior to June 4, the less hectic will be those orientation sessions.
April 25
  • I have been getting e-mails from a number of people now that summer registration has started. Rather than respond to the e-mails individually, I will address the inquiries here so that everyone will have the benefit of the information.
  • As to registration - the info. you need is on the handouts for the April 10 meeting. It is also on the *Agenda - April 10 Meetingpage. I will put up a registration page if any further information is needed.
    • Besides the information, you need over-rides to register for the Conexiones courses because registration is limited to students who have applied to the program and been accepted. I have provided both University Honors and the Spanish and Portuguese Department with the list of students accepted into the program. I have instructed the contact people in the appropriate offices to issue those over-rides. If you have not been able to register because of "permission" it means that the over-rides have not been issued.
    • It took me a long time to learn that I have to be patient in these circumstances, but since I have learned this skill, my life has definitely improved. My advise here is, give it some time. No one has to complete registration this week or even next week. We will be having another face to face meeting next week (see below). If you are still attempting to register without success, I will make inquiries. I have directed Conexiones programs since 1985 and we have managed to get every student registered.
  • As to your scholarship money showing up in your Bursar Accounts. We have not transferred those funds because we do not want to do so until we are certain that the stipend recipients have accepted the stipends and show a firm commitment to the program. I want to use every penny of our stipend money to support our students. Over the weekend we had one student with a stipend award indicate that she was having to drop out of the program. Another student never responded to the award. We are in the process of reviewing stipend applications and making new awards and adjustments. We can do this up to the point that we transfer the funds. At that point we have to recover funds before we can award them to someone else. We wanted to give students all the time we could give them to assess their situations and either accept the awards with resolution or drop out. My plan at present is to provide the few students who are still uncertain with a deadline (May 1 is the tentative date). Once we have word as to whether these students can accept the stipends, we will make transfer the stipend funds wholesale into the appropriate bursar account. Remember this
    • The funds are in our hands. They come from the Honors Program and the Office of the UNM Provost.
    • Stipend recipients do not have to do anything. The funds will show up in your account as soon as we make the transfers
    • We will be making those transfers very soon
  • As to the Group Flight
    • Students opting for the group flight and who recieved Conexiones Program Stipend Awards of $820.90 or more will need to make no payment to the UHP for their tickets. Instead, the UHP will use those funds to purchase the tickets. The remaining stipend funds (if any) will be transfered to the student's bursar account.
    • Students without a stipend must pay the UHP for their airfare. Students with stipends under $820.90 must pay the difference between their stipend award and the cost of the ticket.
    • The UHP has already paid a deposit that is holding those 18 slots for us.
    • At this point 16 people have signed up for the group flight(s). If we do not get 18 people on board for the Group flight, we will have to pay a penalty (a couple of hundred dollars).
    • If you sign up for the Group Flight, you will still be able to change the return flight - but you will be charged a fee to do so - my recollection is that the fee will be $50. I will double check that
  • As to insurance. We are asking people to purchase insurance. Unless you have insurance that provides international travel coverage, we are recommending that you purchase HTH insurance that is available here. You can download a brochure, sign up and buy insurance online.
    • At the April 10 meeting, I indicated that Conexiones would reimburse you $30.00, defraying the cost of HTH insurance for most of you. We need to update that sum to $40.00. This will insure you from June 9 - July 8. If you stay longer, you will have to pay more but Conexiones will reimburse $40.00
    • The cost of HTH insurance will be more for older students. If this is the case, let me know. Conexiones will be able to enhance the reimbursement up to $80.00 for the June 9 - July 8 coverage. This will mean that no one will have to pay more than $25.00 out of their own pockets for insurance.
    • Ultimately, of course, you are buying it anyway - it comes out of the program fee we collect.
    • We will make these reimbursements either in Albuquerque at the Oriention Sessions June 4-6 or in Granada on or around June 10.
  • UNM requires that all students going on a UNM travel abroad program arrange for a medical consultation addressing travel issues. SHAC provides these or you can use your own physician. But you do need to provide documentation showing that you have had this service, At SHAC it will cost $15.00
  • Note 4:00 Thursday May 3 as the date for our next Orientation Meeting. it will be at the Honors Forum as before.
    • At that meeting we will need to complete as much business as possible.
      • If you have not completed your housing form either e-mail it to me now or bring it to the meeting
      • If you have not submitted a passport scan either e-mail that to me or bring your passport to the meeting
    • Please make every effort to attend this meeting. It will be our last face to face orientation meeting before June 4.


April 5
  • Please list any concerns or issues that you'd like to see us address at the April 10 meeting on the Meeting One - April 10 - Agenda Ideas page.
  • For independent travelers, the least expensive fares seem to be available on this site
http://www.studentuniverse.com/
  • Moms welcome! Please note that parents are welcome to attend the April 10 Orientation meeting. Parents are often quite naturally uneasy about study abroad plans and programs. We are glad to have them at our meetings and quite willing to answer questions and address concerns.
  • Summer Registration begins April 23. We will have all of the info. you'll need to get registered appropriately by that time.
  • As Jessica pointed out - Summer Semester FAFSA Forms will be available on April 23. The forms are paper forms so you will probably have to go the Financial Aid Office to get them. I know that a number of students have financial concerns, so do take advantage of Summer Financial Aid.
  • Students planning to take advantage of the group flight should sign up at once, here. We need to have 18 passengers to avoid having to pay a penalty. Note if you sign up for the group flight, you can, perhaps, change the return flight with little or no penalty. Two passengers can change with no penalty - after that there is a $50 fee assessed for each passenger who makes a change.
  • There are still some students who have not responded vis a vis stipend awards. Please do so via wiki message or e-mail to me (Dr. T - mthomas@unm.edu. Even if you are not sure you will be able to take advantage of the award, let me know that you received word of the offer and that you are still "thinking about it." etc.
  • Do come to the meeting on April 10 at 7:00 in the Honors Forum. It is hugely important in that we will not be having another face to face meeting until Early May. I hope to accomplish much at this meeting.



April 2:
  • The Conexiones Stipend Awards letters went out today, and the arrangements for the group flight will be nailed down shortly. Things are starting to be more concrete. So It's time for our first orientation meeting.
  • I have scheduled the Honors Forum for a meeting at 7:00 on Tuesday April 10. Please come - students & faculty.to contribute to the agenda go to the Meeting One - Agenda Ideas Page.
  • To secure a place on the group flight (see below), use the Group Flight Sign UP page.

March 30:

  • We have decided, after all, that we will put together a group flight deal for students who want to travel to Nicaragua on June 9 and return on July 7. Apparently people ran into difficulties immediately (both scheduling and cost)in trying to book flights and this is something that the program can do. So we are going to create a group flight deal for 18 passengers - I am excluding students and faculty who've told me that they want or need to make other plans. I will create a wiki page and want people to sign up there indicating that they want a spot on the group flight. Hopefully this will be the last alteration in plans.

  • Independent travelers what you need to do is to arrange your flight from Albuquerque to Managua to arrive by June 9. Let us know the arrival time in Managua so that we can arrange your transportation from the airport to Granada where you will be placed with your host family. (to do this, enter your arrival time on the arrival time wiki page .

  • Independent travelers also note that since there are only a few flights arriving in Managua from the US daily, you will be travelling with other Conexiones students and faculty. You can arrange your return flight on whatever date you please, noting the your room and board is paid through June 6. So, you can return as early as June 7. Remember that we have on campus sessions ending the program in Albuquerque June 16-18. That means you will need to schedule your return trip to arrive in Albuquerque no later than June 15. Please get busy and make your reservations as soon as possible so you do not find that the flights you want are booked.

  • I have the data on the OIPS Regents Scholarships. That means we have all the information we need to award the Conexiones Program Scholarships. 14 Conexiones students have received one of these. Congratulations to those students. If you did not receive one of these scholarships, do not despair, we will be awarding the Conexiones Program Scholarships within a few days.

  • Here's how it will work. We will be examining and assessing the applications. Based on those assessments, We will be sending out e-mails from my e-mail address (mthomas@unm.edu) notifying students whether their application for the Conexiones Program Scholarship has been granted and, if so, the amount of the award. If, the information is inadequate or we have questions, we will be in touch by telephone or will e-mail you to set up an appointment to discuss your application before acting to grant the scholarship. The funds will be transferred into your UNM account and you can use those fund to defray tuition, program fee, or travel expenses. You cannot use the scholarship funds for anything else and The UHP will recover those funds if you are unable to participate in the program.

  • Note, The program fee is $1850, you must pay this fee along with tuition. We will hold the applications fees you've already paid until the first day of our on campus orientation sessions on June 4. At that time we will return the $100.00 application fee that you gave us with your application.

  • Note, we will be scheduling a late afternoon or evening orientation session very soon. Please make every effort to attend. Also, as I get questions, I will post them (unless they are personal) and the answers on the wiki. So if you have questions, check the wiki first to see if they have already been answered. Please, please, please, familiarize yourself with the wiki. Many of the questions students have are addressed on the various wiki pages.

  • There are a couple of recent applicants who will be getting wiki invitations shortly. There are also a couple of students who have not yet joined the wiki. If this is you, please join immediately. I will be re-inviting you and I expect you to respond by joining.

  • Do check the wiki frequently. Plans are starting to become quite concrete and I will be posting news and notices on the NOTICIAS page as things come up.

  • Again, if you need help with travel arrangements, contact Lee Clark (laclark@unm.edu) or me.

  • An do take pity. The Conexione entourage including students, faculty, and research project mentors is at present 35. I am glad to answer questions and be as helpful as I can be, but please check first to see if it's answered on the wiki or would be better directed to someone else.

March 27 (Scholarships)

Many students applied for the OIPS Regents Scholarships. All students have applied for the Conexiones Program Scholarships. Excellent.

  • To make the process of awarding the program scholarships as efficient and fair as possible please follow these instructions.

  • As soon as you hear about your OIPS application, let me (Dr. T) know if you've been awarded an OIPS scholarship and if so, the amount. Please let me know if you have not applied for the OIPS or if your application was denied.

  • When I have this information, I will immediately get in touch with you to speak to you on the phone or to set up a brief interview.

  • We will make the Conexiones Program Scholarship awards after speaking to all applicants.

March 7
  • Students should upload photos. I have created a page - *Students 2012 for that purpose
  • Everyone, students and faculty, need to either get a passport or make sure the one you have has not expired.
  • The deadline for the OIPS Regent Scholarship has passed. Applicants should hear around the first of April as to that scholarship.
  • Conexiones/Nicaragua/2010 Program Scholarships will be awarded after the OIPS Regent Scholarships have been announced. We will probably want to speak briefly with applicants for the Conexiones Program Scholarship before April 15. We hope to make the awards around that time.
  • UNM is adopting Terra Dotta, software that will centralize all study abroad program data. When established, terra dotta will have a file on every study abroad student. You will be able to upload a scanned image of your passport, emergency contact information, health insurance policy number, etc.to your terra dotta file. In the future Conexiones students will be able to use terra dotta to apply. For the present, just wait until we have put the program information on the UNM site and have precise information for students on using the site.
  • We are exploring the ins and outs of travel to and from Nicaragua - group fares, rules, etc. In 2010, The program purchased tickets in order to get a group rate and then collected funds from students for the tickets. We will probably handle this similarly in 2012 although we may ask students to pay a deposit on tickets the program will be purchasing. It depends on what we hear from the ticket agents.

March 1
  • Start familiarizing yourselves with the wiki. You will notice that some pages and some info. is out of date. We will be updating and editing regularly. Be sure and check out these new pages, * Faculty -2012, and Anton Daughters.

  • Also you can start reading up on Nicaragua. A travel guide is a good place to start. There are several including Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide, Moon Guide toNicaragua. Many of those also have on-line sites, which are invaluable for student travelers. Moon Guide Nicaragua co-author, Joshua Berman, also has an excellent site soley devoted to Nicaragua, http://www.gotonicaragua.com/