Staff

Member Monday: Meet Reeder, Dentist of Preventive Oral Health!

October 16th, 2017

For this week’s Member Monday, we meet Reeder! Read more to learn about Reeder, his love of dentistry, and experience working with Comunidad Connect.

When did you start working for CC?

I started working with Comunidad Connect on July 18, 2016. At that time, a medical group was down here – Doctors Ben & Karen Thrower – so it was with this group that I started my work here.

Describe your role.

Right now I am directing a preventive oral health project. I give educational talks about dental hygiene, give fluoride treatment to children in schools in Los Robles, San Estéban, Datanlí, and possibly Pueblo Nuevo in the future. This is what we focus on, because in a study that we did last year in 2016 we found that there was a really high rate of cavities in this region. Moreover, the children with the most dental needs and with the fewest resources didn’t have access to dental attention or knowledge about these themes. Because of this, the preventive oral health program was born to give the kids educational talks to teach them how to brush their teeth, what kinds of food they can eat and when they should eat them, and after the talks give them preventive fluoride treatment.

What is your favorite part about working with CC?

My favorite part of working with Comunidad Connect is working with kids because they have a special energy. Although you will always find yourself interacting a boy or girl who is a little more challenging to work with, they are the ones who learn most and, in reality, take what you are saying more seriously. Sometimes with adults this is more difficult. Children are always open and receptive to whatever knowledge you are sharing with them.

What got you interested in dentistry?

My mom is a dentist, so from a young age I grew up in an environment with related themes, but at that time dentistry didn’t really interest me. However, when I grew up there came a moment when I began focusing more and having an interest more in people’s teeth and dental hygiene. In reality, after looking at your eyes, the second thing people notice is your mouth and smile. The mouth is constantly moving, when you’re talking to someone else you are looking at their movements, and mouth is what moves the most. So through that, my passion for dentistry began.

What is one of your best childhood memories?

Well I don’t know if this is good or not, but it’s actually related to what we’re talking about and what I do now. Like I said, dentistry didn’t really interest me at a young age. My mother was a dentist, so I would watch her do tooth extractions. I remember one time when I almost fainted, because she needed more light and asked me to shine light on the patient. And when I saw everything, I felt like fainting because I didn’t like it. This story makes me laugh because today this is what I do and it doesn’t make me faint or anything.

 

What is your favorite place to visit in Nicaragua?

Granada because it’s a completely colonial city. It has a historic atmosphere, and it makes you live and remember the colonial time.

What is your favorite holiday in Nicaragua?

Mother’s Day!

What’s your favorite typical dish?

Baho, which is a mixture of plantain, yucca, beef, salad, and green chile. (same answer as Kelly!) It’s the best food in Nicaragua. 

What is your spirit animal?

I used to say dogs, but recently I’ve felt more connected to birds. I have 10 birds: 6 Australian parakeets, 2 African parakeets, and 2 cockatiels.

What hobbies or talents do you have that most people don’t know about?

I’m a Series Marathoner (aka Netflix). I’ll start a series and finish the whole thing in a week. For instance, Game of Thrones.

 

Reeder loves working with the Comunidad Connect team!

Thanks Reeder! Check in next week for our next Member (& Memo) Monday! 

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Member Monday: Meet Roxana, Administrative Assistant!

October 9th, 2017

In today’s Member Monday, we meet Roxana! Read more to learn about Roxana, her dog Lucy, and experience working with Comunidad Connect.

When did you start working for CC?

I learned about Comunidad Connect through my sister-in-law, and started working in 2015.

Describe your role.

I work in office maintenance and administrative work, assisting our accountant and country director with various projects.

What is your favorite part about working with CC?

My favorite part of working with Comunidad Connect is interacting with my coworkers. We’re a small team but it feels like a family.

What is your favorite cultural event or celebration in Nicaragua?

On May 3rd there is the Fiestas de la Cruz in Jinotega, where lots of people climb up to the Peña de la Cruz, a large cross on top of a mountain overlooking the city. It’s the celebration for the anniversary of when Bishop Agustín Morel de Santa Cruz installed the first cross there in  1752.

What is your favorite place to visit in Nicaragua?

Corn Island because it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, far from everything and has a different culture than the rest of the country.

 

Roxana competing in the Traje de Fantasia (Fantasy Costume) contest in Leon.

What’s your favorite typical dish?

Gallo pinto (rice and beans) with cuajada y crema (cheese and cream) and avocado.

What is your spirit animal?

A bird because they can always fly wherever they want.

If you could invent a new fruit, what two fruits would you combine?

Lucy and Roxana are best of friends!

Pineapple and strawberries.

What hobbies or talents do you have that most people don’t know about?

I love to stay active with sports, hiking to the Peña de la Cruz, boxing, going to the gym in the mornings, and doing yoga. I also like to draw and look for new healthy recipes. Last year, I started competing in Miss Nicaragua Turismo contests. I also have a really cute dog named Lucy, who loves to hike with me!

 

Thanks Roxana! Check in next week for our next Member (& Memo) Monday! 

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Member Monday: Meet Kelly Vlaskamp, Director of Cultural Connections!

October 2nd, 2017

 

Apart from running our Cultural Connections program, Kelly loves harvesting avocados in her backyard!

Today we kick off a weekly series of posts getting to know each of the team members at Comunidad Connect. Our first Member Monday is Kelly Vlaskamp, our Director of Cultural Connections, with honorary member of the team, Memo! Read more to learn about Kelly and her experience living and working in Nicaragua.

When did you start working for CC?

April of 2016. 

Describe your role.

As Director of the Cultural Connections Program, I oversee all the volunteers that come down support our programs to work in Los Robles, San Estaban, and surrounding communities. My day to day is a lot of administrative work, such as preparation for the groups that come down to volunteer: making sure volunteers are prepared and coordinating logistics for community projects.

What is your favorite part about working with CC?

I really like when you see the spark in volunteers, of someone wanting to become an agent of change and ambassador of Nicaragua and work to promote sustainable community development. It’s inspiring to see that change happen in such a short amount of days.

Kelly coordinates Cultural Connections trips to support intercultural exchange and promote community development. Here, Kelly was working with LifeBridge Church from Savannah, GA.

Students march in a parade during the Fiestas Patrias in Jinotega, September 14-15th.

What is your favorite cultural event or celebration in Nicaragua?

Fiesta Patrias (independence of Central America) because I really enjoy seeing the parades in the streets and the kids in their nice clothes. Everyone is in the streets and you get to see people you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s a great time to reconnect with the country and culture.

What is your favorite place to visit in Nicaragua?

The Laguna de Apoyo because it’s a beautiful crater lake with warm water. It’s also the deepest point in Central America. 

Where can you find the best rosquillas in Nicaragua?

So they say the best come from Somoto, but my favorite in Jinotega are from El Arbolito because of their Somoto style. Something that’s really fun do to on the weekends is go to fairs, like farmers markets, that En Tour (part of the Nicaraguan department of tourism) puts on representing different regions in the country. It’s a great opportunity to try food from different departments without traveling. I’ve gotten coffee from Esteli, rosquillas from Somoto, and cheese from Boaco.

What’s your favorite typical dish?

Baho, which is a mixture of plantain, yucca, and beef. I’m a sucker for soups!

What is your spirit animal?

I have two: Koala Bear or Goat.

Kelly’s new puppy Memo loves to play and run around, especially at the farm when volunteer groups visit!

If you could invent a new fruit, what two fruits would you combine?

Papaya with grapefruit to combine the blandness and creamy papaya with the kick of a grapefruit. 

What hobbies or talents do you have that most people don’t know about?

A fun fact about me, I can dislocate my shoulders. Also, in middle school I was a part of a Houston Dynamo halftime show (MLS). Most of my moments of glory happened between the ages of 8-15.

Thanks Kelly! Check in next week for our next Member (& Memo) Monday! 

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Yarisleidy Mayorquin: Nica Agua Program Administrator

November 23rd, 2015

Written by: Yarisleidy Mariana Cortez Mayorquin, Administrator of Nica Agua & Community Projects

Lea este blog en español

Before Comunidad Connect I had a few informal jobs while studying at the university.

I started my professional work experience with Comunidad Connect while I was finishing up my studies. I began as Assistant Director and now I am the head of Nica Agua & Community Projects. From planning to executing projects, my experience has been enriching both personally and professionally. Every day new situations arise, along with new challenges inside and outside the office. Through learning, feedback and sharing with coworkers, we as a CC team achieve success. Without a doubt our work is bringing positive results.

YLblog

Yarisleidy works with CC staff on Data Analysis

My character is a mix of calm and temperamental, therefore I describe myself as a person with various qualities. I like to work for the wellbeing of people, families, and their communities. I always keep in mind that my priority above all else is the community. They are my people, they are the families with whom I have connected and they have trusted me. For this reason sometimes I take control of situations in order to be able to take into account the perspective of every team member. (more…)

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