Good Foundations International
(formerly Potters for Peace)
JOIN A BRIGADE
Due to the current unrest in Nicaragua, we have suspended our brigades until further notice. Please check the website for updates and notifications of other programs.
Below is general information about our brigades.
In January or February of each year, Good Foundations International offers a two-week guided trip (a brigade) to Nicaragua. We spend time in several rural pottery communities, visit the renowned Nicaraguan pottery center of San Juan de Oriente and spend a day at Filtron, a ceramic water filter factory in San Marcos.
Our brigades are not your average packaged tour. We visit remote ceramic communities where the needs are the greatest and work alongside them, hear their stories, share their meals, and sometimes even sleep in their homes. For even the most experienced travelers, it is a rare opportunity share a rural Nicaraguan’s daily life. For inexperienced travelers, it can be a life-changing look into the daily realities of the poor who comprise over 90% of the world’s population. Needless to say, gourmet food and idyllic accommodations do not exist here.
Although some interactions, such as kiln building, will be structured, many of our visits will be devoted to spontaneous interactive clay work with the artisans. The quality of your experience will depend upon your own enthusiasm. Come prepared not only to SEE, but to DO, and to get your hands DIRTY with clay. Expect not only to TEACH, but to LEARN. Bring your hiking boots, because we will be leaving the paved paths. Translation is provided for non-Spanish speakers, but you will be surprised at how our common language of clay quickly breaks down barriers. Sidesaddle kick-wheels and local materials will test the skills of everyone.
GFI brigades are an integral part of our Nicaraguan ceramic program and benefit the local potters as much as the visitors. We always include a Nicaraguan potter as a travel companion, giving her an opportunity to see the country outside of her village, get inspired by the work of others, and develop lasting friendships with other artisans and brigadistas. It is rewarding to see the cultural exchanges and friendships built during our brigades.
Food and Lodging
Although the conditions can be sparse, we use the best lodging available among the limited local options, and food is usually the same daily fare as most Nicaraguans—beans, rice and various additions. Do not expect to enjoy excellent food or luxury accommodations because our purpose is to briefly share the daily realities of life in the developing world.
Vegetarian or vegan travelers will survive the brigade, but please bear in mind that dietary options can be severely limited in rural Central America. You can always get by on beans and rice until the next meal.
After Paul Soldner took part in a brigade in the early 1990s, he reported that as much could be learned about pottery in those two weeks as in a four-year university program.
In addition to our yearly brigade, we run brigades for students or other interested groups. The structure of all our brigades is similar but we can add locations or activities that are of specific interest to these groups.
If you are interested in active involvement with GFI, we urge you to begin with the brigade experience. This is the best way to see how and where we work. Please explore our orientation packet to see if this brigade is right for you.
Contact Jennifer Mally (email@example.com) for further information.