Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hasta la Vista

hasta_la_vista_by_antzdroid-d4qs2jj

The time has finally come and I can’t believe I am only a week away from being in Nicaragua. It has definitely been a long journey even before the journey down south. Through taking LACS 20 and being part of CCESP, I have learned more about Nicaragua, volunteerism, and myself. Below I have outlined the top 5 takeaways from this term in preparation for my trip to Nicaragua:

  1. Want what the people want, not what the outsiders want. After our discussion of the potential Nicaraguan Canal, I realized that although things sometimes look good on paper, we should not impose our own thoughts and beliefs on others, especially those with their own country and culture. Whether or no we like the canal or not, it is up for the people of Nicaragua to decide, not us, since they are the ones who will live with it in their backyard.
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak. An important skill I have learned from LACS 20 is to pose questions and interact with people to learn more about a culture and its customs. After learning to and practicing conducting oral history, I feel more confident in approaching people to learn more about themselves as human beings and what they believe.
  3. Realizing that education should be engrained in service. Before LACS 20, I thought I was going on a regular service trip, helping the community and doing what most people call community service. However, I now realize that the learning process is a huge part of the program and we a Dartmouth students can very well learn a lot more from the Nicaraguans than vice versa. I prefer to think of the trip as an educational experience because I do not fully believe we are simply “helping” them.
  4. Explore my passion within service. Through my final project on chocolate, I realized that it is possible to connect one’s interests and passion with service. I never expected to learn so much about chocolate in a class on Nicaragua but I am glad that I had the opportunity to explore a topic I was excited about and connect back with service.
  5. Have fun. I realized that I can get the most out of the experience if I just have fun. Often times we are inundated with work and are focusing too much on the technical aspects but if we take a break to breathe and simply have fun with what we are doing, the experience at the ends feels so much more rewarding and the memories will truly last a lifetime.

 

Interview with Stephanie Daniels

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During my research on cocoa in Nicaragua, I was referred by Professor Moody to speak with his friend, Stephanie Daniels, who works at the Sustainable Food Lab in Vermont. I had an opportunity to speak with her over the phone to ask questions about cocoa production around the world. Luckily for me, Stephanie is a specialist in fine cocoa and has done research on cocoa in high value markets.

In our conversation, Stephanie explained to me that cocoa is extremely capital intensive and no longer requires a lot of labor. Large and expensive machinery takes care for most of the work in chocolate production.

She says that it is important for chocolate producers to connect with its targeted market. Some markets are inundated by large corporate producers while others primarily consist of small and gritty artisan producers. Marketing chocolate as a treat is critical in some markets and not as important in others.

Stephanie also explained that a products packaging and how it connects to people is rather important. Some chocolate producers have focused on creating a “mission” with its chocolate and using its creative packaging to gain consumers. Other chocolate producers are making retail shops that create a full immersion and creates a complete experience for the consumer, aside from just eating the chocolate. Many successful companies in Latin America have profited off of tourism and have made chocolate an experience rather than just a piece of candy.

Stephanie provided me with additional resources including her own paper, “Reaching High-Value Markets: fine flavor cocoa in Ghana”. Her paper goes through the fine cocoa market in the context of Ghana and lists ways of improvement for the country to profit more off of its cocoa production.

My talk with Stephanie definitely helped steer me in the right direction in terms of research and has opened my eyes on the intricacies of he chocolate and cocoa industries around the world.