The Difficult Work of Bridges

It’s time that I finally spoke of the initiative that has been brewing for several years now within Winds of Peace.  It’s not something that we’ve mentioned here before, because the vision is expansive, the logistics are significant and the process takes time.  But it’s work that is a logical extension of the work of WPF from the past 30 years.   Bridge engineering might not be the first capacity anyone thinks of with regards to WPF, but that’s exactly what is on our agenda these days, as we attempt to add several bridges between the U.S. and Nicaragua.   It’s true; read on.

As you will know if you have visited the Winds of Peace website, our history in Nicaragua goes back to the 80’s.  Initially there were the trips taken by Louise and Harold Nielsen in discovery of a country that had been decimated by war and interventions by the U.S.  Soon, project funding followed, primarily through Foundation funding of other entities providing development support.

Eventually, project funding became more direct, as the Foundation was able to utilize the unique connections created by Mark Lester, a long-time Nicaragua resident even then.  The first partnerships with the University of Central America (UCA) and its research and development entity, NITLAPAN, grew out of these connections and have multiplied to the present.  The Foundation partnered with The Center for Global Education (CGE) at Augsburg College for Mark’s time and to create its first synergies.   Delegations were made aware of Foundation sites and activities as part of their educational experiences.  Winds of Peace even donated the current facility which houses CGE offices and residential delegations.  It has been an arrangement that has served both entities very well.

So Winds of Peace shares its newest vision, as we seek to build some additional bridges while utilizing the strength of those already forged.  In summary, we envision the creation of a “synergy center,” a new facility to further the transformative educational experiences, the social and economic development efforts, and the extensive network of relationships and contacts between Nicaragua and North Americans.

More than that, the Foundation is in search of a U.S. education partner to not only access these resources and experiences, but to build a bridge between themselves and Nicaragua, engaging Central American counterparts right where they live and work and to experience the realities of life that are so starkly different from our own.   It’s an opportunity that is outside the parameters of Augsburg’s future directions, although that college is determined to maintain its Nica programming offerings with the new partner as able.

WPF concept paper final Jan 2014In its visionary Concept Paper, Winds of Peace Foundation articulates a unique blending of resources that expands upon the transformative outcomes already created over decades in Nicaragua.  During this time, participants of student and private delegations have experienced epiphanies of understanding, seeing their world from new perspectives, in some cases changing both career and personal life trajectories.  At the same time, citizens of Nicaragua have encountered visitors to their communities, experiencing their own educational moments.  Cooperatives and other institutions have engaged with teachers, business thinkers, funders and other resource people to enhance their initiatives in new ways.  The impact of the bridges that have been built are both great and small, but never insignificant.

So the search for the new partner has commenced, with initial introductory conversations having been held with a handful of U.S. universities and colleges.  As noted above, the Concept Paper has now been added to this site for reference by virtually any potentially interested party.  The search will expand next month as WPF meets with leaders of a major university consortium, representing a number of schools which have frequently participated in CGE programming in Nicaragua.  While the possibilities of partnership are nearly endless, eventually the Foundation will seek an institution that is very good at envisioning and building bridges.

Watch for periodic updates here in the future as we look for concrete foundations, towers, decks, expansion plates and abutments to span some important distances….



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