August 17, 2003 - Indianappolis Woman: Katie Ashby has adapted to her new life in Jinotega in the mountains of Nicaragua.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nicaragua: Peace Corps Nicaragua: The Peace Corps in Nicaragua: August 17, 2003 - Indianappolis Woman: Katie Ashby has adapted to her new life in Jinotega in the mountains of Nicaragua.

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 2:21 pm: Edit Post

Katie Ashby has adapted to her new life in Jinotega in the mountains of Nicaragua.

Katie Ashby has adapted to her new life in Jinotega in the mountains of Nicaragua.

Katie Ashby had completed eight months in the Peace Corps when she was back in Indianapolis for a visit. The 2000 graduate of Indiana University has adapted to her new life in Jinotega in the mountains of Nicaragua. In fact, she has learned Spanish. When she first met her host mother, Ashby knew how to say only what her allergies were. "There was a lot of staring at each other," she says. Now, speaking from her parentsí cozy kitchen, she slips into Spanish while the English words escape her.

As part of the business development arm of the Peace Corps, Ashby lives a cushy life compared to, for example, Pughís situation in Africa. Pugh is the reason Ashby joined the Peace Corps. They are pals from North Central High School. Ashbyís home is a former pulpería, or general store, with two bedrooms, electricity, running water for bathing and a private patio with a mountain view. A maid helps her hand-wash her clothes. Nicaragua is fairly developed and relatively safe. Friends and family admire her for the work she is doing, she says, but itís unnecessary.

"If they came down there, they would see itís such a great gig," she says. "I really think a lot more people could do this than think they could. We always joke in our group that Peace Corps is the best-kept secret."

After college with a degree in business, Ashby worked for the Coca-Cola Co. on its Olympics team as a contractor doing operations at the Sydney and Salt Lake City games. Now she goes into Nicaraguan high schools to teach small-business basics such as customer service, accounting, marketing and finance. But she is learning just as much as her students are.

"Iíve realized our lives are so much easier in the U.S. You can have anything at the touch of a finger. You can call and have anything you need. You can get on the Internet and get anything you want. But down there itís really hard," Ashby says. "To go grocery shopping, I have to go to the market, walk around and find the best deals, the best vegetables. Here you go to Marsh and you got it all."

The culture also is quite honest Ė sometimes brutally Ė about appearance, and people call you like they see you. On a daily basis, Ashby is hissed at by the men in Jinotega who catcall, "Sss, chele" (whitey) or "Adios, chelita" (little white girl). Once on a bus someone got a womanís attention by pointing out her "big head," and carrying a few extra pounds is commendable.

"Because of the hunger situation, having a kid thatís fat or pudgy or a little round, having a rotund kid is a good thing, because it means you can afford to eat," Ashby says. Poverty is an obstacle for most Nicaraguans, which has changed her perspective on one of American womenís favorite pastimes.

"I donít feel like going shopping anymore. Iíve got clothes. Iíve got so many clothes compared to them," she says. "A lot of times I have a really hopeless feeling for what Iím doing because sometimes itís just so overwhelming that these people are in this situation, and really to improve it is going to take a lot of time and a lot of years and a lot of work. And, as one person, itís hard to feel like youíre really making a big difference."

Although Ashby does worry about getting back into the frenetic American job market after her time in Nicaragua is completed, she says she knows it will all be worth it.

"I think everyone who makes it through the two years looks back on it really fondly. Something changed about them, and itís definitely something they like that changed about them. I donít know whatís going to change about me yet."

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Story Source: Indianappolis Woman

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Nicaragua



By david brown ( on Monday, October 03, 2005 - 12:39 pm: Edit Post

I am planning a move to Jinotega with the intention of building for the tourist industry. I need to spend an extended period of time there. I would prefer to rent a house in the area. Can anyone tell me the best way to go about this?

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