Student Spotlight: Wiebel Helps Educate in Nicaragua


Haley Wiebel, a third year International Relations major at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, collaborated with students from both BU and the University of Nicaragua to create an upcoming photo essay book to be published by the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.

The book will be used in middle school classes in the U.S. and Nicaragua. It will feature concise introductions to culture and the effects of climate change in four parts of the country. The project was made possible with support from the U.S. Department of State, the Peace Corps, and National Geographic Learning.

“This was my first time traveling to Nicaragua,” said Wiebel. “I learned so much about its rich and diverse culture. I also appreciated participating in the development and implementation of this type of project.”

Wiebel served as an assistant coordinator on the December 2014 trip under Humphrey Program assistant director Cyrus Konstantinakos. The Nicaragua project is part of a larger initiative called “Our Global Villages”, which promotes global multiculturalism by supporting young people worldwide to produce and share photo essays on selected aspects of their respective cultures. As Konstantinakos explains, “much of the innovative work in global education is taking place at the upper secondary and tertiary levels; we’d like to offer a kind of first-stage, curiosity-building curriculum for younger minds.”

In Nicaragua, Wiebel and other BU students worked in small production teams with Nicaraguan students, Peace Corps Volunteers, and university faculty and staff in the mountains where coffee is grown, a Creole and indigenous community on the Caribbean coast, and a volcano island in the middle of a lake large enough to have waves and bull sharks and sawfish that have adapted to fresh water.

“It was incredible working with Nicaraguan students on fieldwork assignments all around the country,” Wiebel said. “Many told us it was the first time they had ever traveled to rural areas of their own country.”

While in Nicaragua, the BU students joined Konstantinakos in giving a plenary session to 800 English-language instructors at the national TESOL education conference in Managua and also met with U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Phyllis Powers.

Other current Pardee students involved in Our Global Villages include Katie Teran (who also traveled to Nicaragua), Meagan Antonellis, Alex Babcock, Joy Cohen, Jasmine Miller, and Mahnoor Umair—all interns in the Humphrey Fellowship Program. The group is currently planning a similar camp in Uganda, tentatively scheduled for December, 2015.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program was established by Congress in 1978 in honor of the late Senator and Vice President. Humphrey Fellows are selected for their potential as future leaders in pubic service. Boston University is the only university that has supported the program since its inception and has hosted 433 Fellows from 118 countries to date.

Under the guidance of faculty mentors and program coordinators, Fellows pursue individualized programs in graduate-level coursework, independent research, special seminars, and colloquia at the University, and in activities related to their professional fields in government agencies, private organizations, and corporations.