Where in Nicaragua have you been to? and How many times have you been there?
When I went down to Nicaragua, we flew into Managua which is their big city. From there, we drove about 45 minutes to the city of Leon where we lived with our host families for the whole trip. When we were working, we went to the village of La Ceiba, which was about 45 minutes from Leon. That was actually my first time down to Nicaragua, and I will be returning in January.
What do you do while in Nicaragua?
For the first trip that I went on this past March, we focused our time on building a classroom for the children in the village of La Ceiba. When we got there, it was just a classroom in the middle of a dirt field. We started from scratch, which meant digging a 6 foot trench for the base and bending iron into squares. It meant gathering dirt from the neighboring field and sifting through it with a homemade sifter to make our own cement. During this time, the children were still in the other school buildings. When they came out for recess, we were able to play with them and get to know some of them really well. I remember climbing up into a tree with 4 boys and just making animal noises and guessing what each was. I can’t speak spanish well, but this was a way that we were able to communicate. When we weren’t working, we spent our time checking out the gorgeous beach, playing soccer with the kids in La Villae where we stayed, hiking a volcano, exploring the city and spending time with our host families.
When I go back down in January, I will be going with a group of occupational and physical therapy students. While we are down there, we will be providing free treatment to those who have disabilities. We are also planning on bringing down some supplies and adaptive equipment that they might need. This is something that I am extremely looking forward to.
What is your favorite part of the trip?
Hands down, the favorite part of the trip was being able to live with my host family. I now have a second family in another country. Although I am not able to speak spanish well, we were able to bond and really get to know each other through our time together. There were times that we would laugh so hard, or times that I would come in filthy from a hard day of work, and my host mom would just sit there and massage me while I got to relax. My host mom was very much into yoga, so on Saturday morning, most of the delegation came over to our house and we all did yoga on our porch. She loved every single second of it. It was such an amazing experience to see how much she really cared about us in such a short amount of time. Although I keep in touch with them via Facebook, I cannot wait to go see them again in January.
Is there anyway that students or people can contribute to the trip?
An awesome way that people and students can contribute would just be to keep your eyes and ears open to all of the fundraisers going on. There are so many that are going to be happening from now until March for both the ASI trip, as well as the OPTION trip I am going on this January.
How did you hear about this program?
I first started applying for the trip through The Albert Schweitzer Institute my freshman year. I believe that I heard about it through word of mouth and posters in the student center. I had never been on a plane, none the less out of the country before, but I knew from the second that I saw it that it was the trip for me. One of my friends had also been on the same trip, and she said that it was amazing.
Any advice for students looking into alternative spring break programs?
DO NOT HESITATE! My sophomore year, I went to Alabama with the habitat for humanity trip and it opened my eyes to so many things. You would honestly be amazed at how much of a bubble you live in until you travel somewhere different. Then, junior year I went on the Nicaragua trip and it was beyond eye opening. Now, I am going back again in January. Each time that I returned from a trip, I saw this world in a whole new perspective. I know it sounds corny, but once you see how much we actually have compared to others, it changes you. It changes you for the better. My advice would be to do anything similar to these trips - put yourself out there and just go. It will change your life forever.