Nicaragua Winter Break


The ILR International Programs Office is offering a winter break Engaged Learning (EL) opportunity in Managua, Nicaragua. ILR partners with Thriive, a global non-profit organization, whose goal is to help small and medium sized businesses in developing markets. The businesses that receive assistance from Thriive pay-it-forward to their local communities by creating new jobs, offering job training, and/or providing products and services to others in need. Students who participate in this program will work with students from The American University in Managua (UAM) to provide training and solutions in Human Resource Management to Thriive businesses. This program will be overseen by Lisa Nishii and Becky Paluch of the ILR HR Department.

Information Session:

Thursday, Sept 8, 2016

4:30 PM in 116 Ives Hall

Program leaders will be at the session.

For questions contact Donna Ramil at dmr47@cornell.edu.

Potential projects for this class will involve using a framework to create a presentation to be delivered to Thriive businesses on HR Management. Topics include:

  • Employee Value Proposition
  • Employee Relationships
  • Employee Channels
  • Employee Segments
  • Cost Structure
  • Revenue Streams
  • Key Partners
  • Key Activities
  • Key Resources

ILR student will collaborate with UAM students in preparing and delivering the presentations to Thriive business owners.  Spanish-conversation skills will be required for participants.

Fall Pre-departure and Spring Post-experience Courses (required)

Fall 2016

All students accepted into the program will be enrolled ILRHR 4687 (2 credits).  The class meeting time will be set according to students’ schedules.

Course Description:

The world of work is becoming an increasingly global and fast-paced environment which requires HR professionals to obtain and develop cross-cultural knowledge and skills in order to implement them appropriately in a variety of situations. This class is designed to give students an opportunity to leverage their Human Resource management skills while developing new ones in an exciting and challenging international environment.  In this course, students will learn about HR issues and topics that entrepreneurs in developing markets are facing and are provided with knowledge and skills needed to address these challenges. In addition, students will work as consultants in Nicaragua on a project which addresses actual HR issues occurring in small- and medium-sized businesses in the country.  These projects will challenge students to employ their HR knowledge to develop and implement a strategy for an assigned project in a manner that satisfies the host-country partners and meets course requirements. The required assignments for this course present students with new challenges, such as language and cultural barriers and high levels of ambiguity and uncertainty. Accordingly, an important component of the experience is the pre-trip training, during which students prepare for these challenges with the help of ILR faculty and staff.  The primary goal of this course is to provide students with a human resources-focused learning experience that will be remembered as one of the most meaningful and important experiences developing students both personally and professionally.

Students will also be required to attend pre-departure meetings, beginning in late-October (the meetings will be planned around students’ schedules).   The meetings will cover a mix of topics to prepare students personally and culturally for their in-country experience including travel logistics, risk management, health & safety, introduction to Nicaraguan history and culture, and language preparation.

Spring 2017

Students will be required to take the post-course ILRHR 4697 (1 credit)

Course Description:

This course is a continuation of ILRHR 4687 and builds upon the purpose and goals established in the prior semester. As such, this course is designed to solidify the knowledge and skills students acquire in addressing human resource challenges faced by entrepreneurs in developing markets both from class work and experiences in the field. Students will participate in activities to reflect on and share experiences they faced including solving HR issues that confronted their assigned business partners, addressing language or cultural barriers which arose while working in teams, and learning from the lessons gained in overcoming these challenges. This course requires a final project encompassing the skills and knowledge gained from experiences with this class. Participation in ILRHR 4687 is required and entry into the class is subject to instructor approval.

Details about the Nicaragua Winter Break Program

  •         Eight to ten ILR students will be selected for the winter break program.
  •         Travel would occur from January 8-16, 2017 (approximate, the exact dates will be confirmed). Students are expected to be in-country for the entire duration of the program (no exceptions).

THIS IS NOT A VACATION OR TOURISM. THIS IS A SERIOUS ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE REQUIRING EFFORT AND CULTURAL COMPETENCE!

Requirements:  Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 at the time of departure.  Good standing with the ILR School and the University (no pending Judicial Administrative violations).  You must successfully complete ILROB 1220 and ILRHR 2600 by the end of the fall 2016 semester, and be enrolled in ILR School for spring 2017 to be eligible (note that you can be off-campus in spring 2017). Intermediate Spanish-speaking ability is required.

Qualifications:  The ideal candidate will demonstrate cross-cultural skills, flexibility, adaptability, maturity and teamwork.  Candidates should have a demonstrated interest in HR and Latin America.

Apply here (applications for Winter 2018 will open in late August/early September). Login with your NetID and password.

Note that international exchange students are not eligible for this program.

Expenses: Approximate costs for the 9-day program.

  • Airfare: Students will apply for the Cornell Off-Campus Opportunity Fund (OCOF).  Guidelines for the OCOF grant are provided in the online application.
  • Housing and food: Students will receive an ILR grant to cover the cost.
  • Cornell travel nurse/medical for vaccinations:  $150, depending on student's vaccination history (or a visit with a personal physician)
  • Nicaraguan visa:  no cost for US Citizens
  • Incidentals:  $150 (estimated depending on personal spending habits)
  • UHC (emergency evacuation insurance):  Free for Cornell students

Funding:  Program costs including housing, meals, program-related transportation and excursions will be covered by the ILR School through a special grant.

Students will be required to pay for all personal-related spending (souvenirs, etc.), passport costs, immunizations, and health insurance coverage while in Nicaragua (most health insurance policies already cover international healthcare costs).

Housing: Students and program leaders will stay in a hotel approved by the ILR School.  .

Please do not let cost prevent you from applying!

NICARAGUA IS AN EMERGING ECONOMY AND COUNTRY; IT IS CULTURALLY DIFFERENT IN BEHAVIOR, FOOD AND ATTIRE THAN THE UNITED STATES. TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU MUST ACCEPT AND RESPECT DIFFERENCES!

THIS OPPORTUNITY IS NOT A FIT FOR EVERYONE.