Seeds of Learning

Why choose Seeds of Learning?

Seeds of Learning is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities in rural Latin America. We work with North Americans and Central Americans to build and equip schools in Nicaragua and El Salvador, educate children and adults, and promote cross cultural understanding. We have a US office in Sonoma, California and field offices in Ciudad Darío, Matagalpa, and Nindiri, Nicaragua.

Each year, Seeds of Learning sends between 10 and 25 groups of volunteers to Nicaragua. These volunteers spend between 6 and 12 days working with staff and the members of rural communities to build bridges, friendships, explore, and share cultures, and construct a school or learning center. International volunteers also participate in cultural exchanges, a weekend away, educational talks, and more.



Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

This is absolutely a life-changing experience!

To say that my experiences with Seeds of Learning in the communities of Villa Japón and Las Delicias were life-changing would be an understatement; I believe that the work that this organization does with volunteers in rural Nicaraguan communities is potentially world-changing. Let me tell you a little bit about my story to explain why I stand by that statement.

In the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to experience my first trip out of the country, my first encounter with grueling manual labor, my first time speaking Spanish in a real-world context…essentially, a lot of firsts. After overcoming the initial shock of the wave of heat that crashed into me when I stepped outside of the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, this gringa was ready to get to work. Little did I know that those first few breaths of sweetly saturated Nicaraguan air would mark the beginning of an integral change in my entire being.

Through the next two weeks, I was completely immersed in a new culture, and through daily reflections with my peers, I compared and contrasted my experiences with life in the U.S., and discussed revelations about the nature of global disparities and the very real impacts on very real fellow human beings. I finally began to see the broader implications of my traditional education through a global perspective, expanding beyond the life that I knew. I was touched by the enthusiasm with which the members of Villa Japón all joined in to support the building project to provide better educational opportunities and improve the futures of generations to come. Not only did my Spanish improve tremendously from communicating with the Nicaraguans, but I also created wonderful friendships and memories, and gained an entirely changed perspective of the modern world.

Upon my return to the U.S., I worked with a fellow student and my Spanish teacher and chaperone from the trip, to organize fundraisers to continue to support the school in Villa Japón, and future SOL projects. When I was offered yet another incredible opportunity to travel back to Nicaragua with a new group of students from my school, I was ecstatic. This time, I would be supplied with camera gear to film a documentary about the Seeds of Learning program for our volunteer group in Las Delicias, and the impacts of the project on the students as well as the community with which we worked. The documentary would be used for future funding of service-based learning programs at Hawken School, as well as to inspire viewers to get involved. With camera and tripod in hand, I set off on a new set of adventures.

Being the designated documentarian, I filmed from the outskirts as well as within the group itself as we worked. I recorded insightful dialogue, sweaty smiling faces, and blossoming friendships among all of the volunteers—gringos and Nicaraguans. As a special treat, our group visited the completed Villa Japón school site where I had worked during the previous summer. To gain a fresh perspective beyond that of a student volunteer, I interviewed village leaders, SOL workers, and school teachers and students at the learning center. During these interviews, I learned that with the construction of proper school buildings, refurbished with school materials and books, student attendance had increased from 250 to 385, and they stayed in school for longer. I saw that interaction on the worksite and visible progress being made increased the morale of the community. As a result, villagers realized their potential when working together, and felt hopeful about what the future holds for their children. There is a strong sense of pride which the community feels as a whole from having done their own part in the construction of their school; it was their project, and they actively contributed to the bettering of the lives of generations to come.

I was delighted to find that some of the students whom I had met on my first trip still remembered me a year later, and were eager to show me the beautifully completed school structure for which we had laid the foundation. The sheer joy in the eyes of the students pointing at the pride of the community, with a backdrop of peals of laughter from playing children, made for a very touching scene which served as further inspiration for my documentary.

My goal with the video was to inspire viewers from all walks of life, whether they have had any experience abroad or none at all, and to share the stories of the incredible people who taught me so much and helped to form the person that I am today. I hoped to create a film that excited viewers, and to stir a desire to help and get involved with Seeds of Learning.

So let me get to my original point here. The name Seeds of Learning is built on the metaphor of sowing seeds which will soon bear bountiful fruits, to nurture the growth of young children by providing educational resources to lead to a better future for them. I was so profoundly touched by my experiences with Seeds of Learning, and my life was certainly turned upside-down. Among piles of cement mezcla, the beautiful genuine smiles of the Nicaraguans, and my interviews delving into local and national issues, I discovered my passion for Latin American culture and social justice. I have seen firsthand how Seeds of Learning programs inspire U.S. volunteers as well as Nicaraguans by instilling hope for a better future. Stories of these experiences spread throughout friends and family back in the U.S. and among communities in Nicaragua, thus touching more and more lives. I too did my part by sharing these stories through the documentary, to further the impact of Seeds of Learning. The seeds have been sown, and they continue to flourish, carried on the wind through the U.S. while also remaining rooted and strong in the communities where great changes are being made to help promote educational opportunities for generations to come. Those young students may grow to be world-changing leaders, and to have been able to be a part of that process is an immense honor for me.

I graduated high school remembered as the gringa who fell in love with Latin America and service work. As a sophomore, I never imagined becoming the young woman that I am today, with wisdoms which Seeds of Learning programs have guided me to discover. I am so grateful to have been able to share my inspiration with so many others, and to continue to support an organization which I believe can truly begin to change the world.

If you would like to see the documentary that I made, please visit the following link.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Seeds of learning

This program is amazing for teens as well as adults. It is wonderful for teens to see what life is like outside their hometowns, and for adults to work along side these kids, creating schools, friendships with the towns people and such a sense of accomplishment.

We were invited by a local man to hike his property, where he had established a successful flower growing operation, through the aid of a small loan. He employed his family and others from the community. Seeing the pride in his face was amazing, and we felt so privileged to be allowed to hike his fields and see his accomplishments.

What would you improve about this program?
Seeds of Learning has found a great balance between working on schools and discovering the larger community where we stayed. We visited people who have created small businesses as making ceramics, chocolate making, and coffee farming.

I prefer the smaller groups as sometimes, the larger groups don't have enough work to do on the school,. We can always do crafts with the school kids. But the physical part of building a school is rewarding as well, and if there are too many people in the group, it can be a bit difficult

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience

I've led three service learning trips for high school students with Seeds of Learning as a volunteer group leader. The experience each time was nothing short of amazing. For most of the students, this was the first time they had ever been in a developing country.

The organization strives to improve the educational opportunities available to children in the Americas. As an organization, it has a unique approach, to engage the local communities in both the planning and implementation processes. Volunteers work side by side community members who are working to improve the educational resources for their children.

The collaboration goes far beyond the construction of a building. During the time in country we built friendships, developed an understanding of life in another part of the world, and learned what it means to be compassionate global citizens. In addition to a building, we built memories and friendships that will remain with us for years to come. I still recall the feeling of arriving at the worksite in the morning and seeing the children peak out of their classroom to say "hola" and welcome us back.

The experience with Seeds of Learning was life changing. I've done three trips with them, and look forward to doing many more. I highly recommend this organization for anyone who is looking for a transformative travel experience.

Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Seeds of Learning Service Programs

Seeds of Learning is an excellent non-profit program that helps to build schools and community resource centers in high needs communities of Nicaragua. The program is unique because the community members themselves are deeply invested in the projects and the volunteers have the privilege of working along side them and having valuable intercultural exchanges. Seeds of Learning also helps communities gain skills that will benefit their community long term. For example, in El Triunfo, Nicaragua community members are learning to make adobe bricks from local resources so they do not need to buy bricks to build their new community resource center.

What would you improve about this program?
When booking flgihts for volunteers, ensure more time to get through customs and immigration on the way home.


Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Suzanne Maggio

I'm a Boston College grad, a career social worker, a college instructor, a passionate traveler and a mother of two awesome sons. I'm the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant and hold dual citizenship with Italy. My favorite travel memories include walking through the Bouqueria in Barcelona, eating prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and watching the New Year's Eve fireworks over the Colosseum in Rome.

Why did you pick this program?

I heard about Seeds of Learning from a good friend. She'd just returned from taking her high school students to El Salvador and her energy was contagious. I knew immediately that I had to go too. I'd done service learning trips when I was in college and I knew how life changing it could be. I met with the leaders of our local high school, and when I told them about the opportunity, they were all in.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

There's so much benefit to travel abroad. You expand your perspective. You see how other people do things. How they think. How they live. But going to El Salvador and Nicaragua with Seeds of Learning was life changing. It helped me refocus my priorities and follow my passion.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Don't wait. Do it. Do it often. It's important to experience life outside our borders. Travel will change you. I tell my students this on a regular basis.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Coming home. Truthfully. Re entry is hard, especially when you've been somewhere for a longer period of time. You've changed, but the place you come back to has stayed the same.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

There are so many. The stories I find myself telling people are mostly descriptive, images that stuck with me. Like what it was like to walk into a house in a rural village in Nicaragua, the dirt floors, the wood slat beds, the smoke stained walls. A little pink backpack hangs on the wall. The food is simple. Rice. Beans. A tortilla made by hand that morning. The smiles on the faces of the children as they welcome us to the worksite each morning.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Just do it! You won't be sorry.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

I traveled a lot when I was young. I was fortunate to go to Europe several times as a kid and study abroad in college, but I hadn't really traveled out of the country since then. I'd been busy working and raising a family. That first trip with Seeds of Learning to El Salvador reawakened the passion I had for travel and for seeing the world. It refocused me. Help remind me what was important. I've since gone on two more trips with them, these times to Nicaragua and I've been back to Europe as well.