Five BUILD members just returned from a very efficient and successful 10-day trip over winter break to Matagalpa and Jinotega, located in the northern mountainous coffee-growing regions of Nicaragua. The achievements of this trip were similar to those of the BUILD trip to Nicaragua last summer in that we developed a clearer understanding of the development culture in the Matagalpa and Jinotega regions and we now have a wide network of NGO partners. Many of these organizations are interested in collaborating further on the possibility of hosting BUILD interns this coming summer or later in the future. For various reasons BUILD had decided to move its focus away from the central Managua, Leon and Granada regions that it had visited the summer before, and we now feel that we have found a region that is a perfect fit for what BUILD hopes to achieve through internship placements. The Matagalpa-Jinotega region presents an ideal summer living situation for BUILD students and is famously full of various types of development organizations that clearly reflect the development experience in Nicaragua. The BUILD team is now beginning the process of matching the interests of its students with the needs of local development NGOs, to pave the way for further discussion with an NGO about our goals for providing internships and the eventual establishment of a work plan for the interns pre-departure.
This semester BUILD has also successfully organized a semester-long course of 13 lectures through the Tufts Experimental College titled “Design, Monitoring and Evaluation in Development,” that will feature lecturers from Tufts, the Fletcher School, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the MIT Poverty Action Lab. The course is being primarily organized by BUILD sophomore Georgie Nink and is sponsored by Tufts professor of civil and environmental engineering Danielle Lantagne. All BUILD students are taking the course, as it is BUILD’s fundamental academic component to prepare members for internships in Nicaragua this summer.