Men’s Club: Nicaragua & BARE

In March the Men’s Club speakers took us to Central America and also heard about an organization called BARE that teaches youth to resists bullying.
On March 1, our own Carl Kukkonen gave us a spellbinding overview of his adventures in Granada, Nicaragua. His most telling recommendation was that he was soon to depart on his 19th trip there in the last five years, and that he had purchased a house there (to renovate as a spare time activity).
Sensing some passion in Carl for his new-found interest, we all listened intently as he gave us a history refresher about Nicaragua. Spain established the first European settlements in Leon and Granada in the 1520’s, beginning a rivalry between these cities that shaped early Nicaraguan history and politics (apparently, it was a disagreement between conservatives and liberals—seems hard to believe!). This rivalry provided a backdrop for a fascinating story involving William Walker, a U.S. citizen, who set himself up as President of Nicaragua after conducting a fraudulent election in 1856. Walker had previously conducted a similar unauthorized and unsuccessful military action in Mexico and, apparently, wanted to conquer much of Latin America creating new slave states to join those that were already a part of the United States (these campaigns were known in that time as filibustering). Walker was eventually undone because his power struggle conflicted with another power exploit headed by Cornelius Vanderbilt’s company, which was using Nicaragua as a transit route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. (Fast forward to the 1980s and the Iran-Contra affair—remember Ollie North and the lady with the shredder?
Claiming that history repeats itself would be repetitive.) In more recent years, Nicaragua has, = fortunately, experienced more peaceful times. Carl pointed out that Daniel Ortega is president, again, but he has taken a less radical stance, allowing for business development and a safe environment for investing.
Carl describes the country as the third poorest in Central America, poor but not miserable—with a subsistence way of life, and the safest in the region. It is blessed with great people, a well-entrenched cultural heritage, natural beauty, and excellent cuisine. Using beautiful photos of the volcano’s, lakes, unique animals, and colonial architecture, Carl is a booster for Nicaragua as an ideal tourist destination.
Additionally, Carl and his wife support charities in Granada and welcome the opportunity to take donations of clothing and used computers to the schools.
On March 15, Deborah Reinsdorph from the nonprofit organization, Bully Awareness Resistance Education (BARE), spoke about their organization’s effort at Teaching Youth Empathy and mindful behavior in light of the increasing frequency of bullying seen in schools today.
This organization, which she founded, goes to schools to educate students that words can either hurt or heal. She mentioned that in 2010 33 students killed themselves because of bullying, both girls and boys. These students may have felt the 3 levels of pain (1) bullying (2) adults don’t do anything and (3) friends abandon them. BARE goes to school to start
Cool to be Kind Clubs. Ms. Reiinsdorph, Esq. states Bullying and other antisocial behavior will diminish greatly when students see the value in themselves and one another, and learn to act accordingly. A very interesting presentation.
This will be our club’s 21 year to offer scholarship to meritorious Dana Hills High graduating students, some of whom could be Niguel Shores residents. Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. These funds come, primarily, from the Pancake Breakfast.
—Jerry Allen and Karl Kuhn

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