Program Directors

First Month As A Program Director


Benedicte Crudgington is a 7-month Program Director who arrived to Nicaragua in January 2018. Prior to joining the MPIN team, Benedicte graduated from Wake Forest University and spent a year working as an EMT and ER Technician in Washington D.C. As a Program Director, Benedicte teaches our level 5 English class, works in both of our community clinics, and helps to oversee the Community Health Promotion Program. Below is an account of her first month as a Program Director. 


As I stepped off the plane into the heavy warm air, the cold grey winter that I was leaving behind seemed far away. A mix of Nicaraguans, groups of volunteers and other travelers de-boarded the plane and crowded into the barren hallway to fill out the custom forms. As Arthur—the other volunteer that was arriving with me—and I were trying to remember the address for the Manna house, a man stopped and asked us if we were volunteering with Manna Project International (MPI). Jesse, had been a volunteer with Manna several years ago and was returning to Nicaragua to research the Zika Virus. He had nothing but good things to say about his time spent volunteering and wished us luck.  Up until I got off the plane, I had not started to process the fact that I was leaving my friends, family, and a life I loved behind in Washington D.C. for a little over half a year, but speaking with Jesse in the airport in Managua reminded me that volunteering with MPI was something that I had been looking forward to for the past several months.  

Settling into life in Nicaragua has been filled with new learning experiences, from learning how to take the local bus to teaching English to a full class room. While there are of course challenges to moving to a new country where you know no one, I have been pleasantly surprised about how easily it has been to adjust to this new life. Every morning I get up and work out with a bunch of people in the house before settling down in the Hub, our main conference/work table, to lesson plan and prepare for the week. I have enjoyed working in the two clinics, and I have especially enjoyed teaching English—something entirely new for me. It is startling to think that I have already been here for one whole month and that I have already been able to travel and feel more comfortable teaching and working in the clinic. As I look forward for all the adventures that are to come in the coming months, I just hope that the time doesn’t go by too quickly.


A Day in the Life of a Program Director 2017


Susan Hyman is a 13-month Program Director at MPI's site in Nicaragua for the 2017-2018 year. She is involved in Lacrosse the Nations, English level 3, Camp JAM, the Cedro Galan Clinic, Community Health Promotion, Women's Exercise, grant prospecting, and recruitment. The following is an account of a typical day in her life as an MPI Program Director.  


6:30am: Wake up! On Tuesdays, I get up bright and early to make it to my first program of the day. The house is usually awoken by crowing roosters, our barking dogs, or the smell of Elena’s delicious breakfasts.

7:30am: My first program of the day begins at 7:30am - lacrosse practice at Colegio Público Chiquilistagua. Even though I had never touched a lacrosse stick before arriving in Nicaragua, I quickly got involved with our partner organization, Lacrosse the Nations. Now it’s one of my absolute favorite parts of my job - I’m usually the one who ends up learning from the students at practice!

LtN Chiqui.jpg

9:00am: Public school practice ends. Andrew and I head back to the Manna House to refill our water bottles and get ready for the second lacrosse practice of the day.

LtN Club.jpg

9:30am: Time to leave for Villa Guadalupe! This community is a bit further away than Chiquilistagua. Luckily, we are able to drive the Manna microbus.

10:00am: Practice begins at Club Cristiana La Esperanza in Villa Guadalupe. These practices are one of my favorite parts of the week! The students are incredibly talented and work so hard to improve each day. Along with teaching lacrosse skills, Lacrosse the Nations provides academic support, feeding programs, and valuable life lessons to the students. Their mission of using sport as a platform to improve the lives of youth here is some of the most inspiring work I’ve had the privilege of helping with.

11:30am: Practice ends, and we hop back in the micro to get home and rest before continuing programs for the day.

12:00pm: We arrive home, cool off, and enjoy a wonderful lunch prepared by Elena! She cooks a lot of rice, beans, chicken, and fresh vegetables. We're lucky to have her!

1:15pm: Time to leave for the next program - Camp JAM (which stands for Juegos, Arte, y Música). Camp JAM is a creative arts program for kids of all ages that we hold in Farito, our community center in Cedro Galán. We do different arts and crafts, play games, and occasionally incorporate simple but important lessons into our activities. Today, we painted wooden flowers.


2:30pm: Camp JAM ends, and the other Camp JAM Program Directors head back to the house while I stay at Farito to prepare for Women’s Exercise.

3:30pm: Women’s Exercise begins! This is another one of my favorite programs. We run this program through six-week bootcamps that focus on different muscle groups and parts of the body. We also add in days of zumba, yoga, and pilates to keep things fun and interesting! The women love the camaraderie of working out together - it helps keep us motivated!


4:30pm: Women’s Exercise ends, and we catch a ride home in the micro as the English Level 1 students are arriving. Farito is packed on Tuesdays all afternoon!

5:00-7:00pm: After a long and sweaty day, it’s time to shower and relax for a bit. As some Program Directors are in and out heading to various English classes, others get the night at home to hang out and prepare for the following day. We will either eat Elena’s meals again for dinner, or sometimes switch it up and cook together!


7:00-9:00pm: Time to get some work done. I teach English Level 3 on Mondays and Wednesdays, so on Tuesday nights I plan class with my co-teacher, Andrew. Once we finish planning, I might catch up on emails, do some grant research, make sure I am prepared for the rest of my programs, or complete any other administrative work that I am responsible for. I am also on the driving schedule most Tuesday nights, so I make a trip in the micro to go pick up the last English class of the night!

9:00-11:00pm: Once we all finish our work for the day, we will often hang out together in the living room or rooftop patio. We watch movies on the projector, play cards, read, call friends and family, and catch each other up on our days. Days as a Program Director are busy but rewarding!