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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua

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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua

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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua

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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua

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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua
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Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua Students Immersed in Culture of Nicaragua

 

A group of 16 St. Joseph’s Academy students traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, spending June 20-27 learning about the history, culture, values and living conditions of the people of this impoverished region.

The trip began with two days at the Jorge Dimitrov youth facility, visiting with youngsters who are growing up in a dangerous neighborhood but can enjoy a safe gathering place thanks to Cantera, a humanitarian, not-for-profit organization which strives to build a just and fair society. Participating youngsters are able to take dance and theater classes and work with tutors in English and math.

Another day was spent at a school in rural Los Planes, playing with the children and helping with a reforestation project.

In La Garnacha, the students saw stone sculptures which had been carved into the side of the mountain by Don Alberto, with whom they enjoyed visiting.

Other trip highlights were swimming in Laguna de Apoyo, shopping in local markets, celebrating mass at the Batahola Norte Cultural Center and a night visit to Volcano Masaya.

Faculty member Lauren Morris and Custodial Supervisor Lena McGee accompanied the travelers.

“This is a different type of mission trip,” Morris said. “It’s about immersing yourself in a completely different culture and forming human relationships and connections. The youth and families in the communities are very poor and have so little yet are so happy and have big dreams for their future. Cantera is making such a difference in these communities with the work they do. A few of the lessons our girls brought home are to live simply, be grateful, be more loving to everyone you encounter, appreciate the beauty of nature and God’s work and to just be happy. It was truly an unforgettable experience.”

“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” McGee said. “Galatians 5:22-23 talks about gentleness, contentment and goodness. The people there are so compassionate. The beauty of God’s nature was abundant everywhere we looked. The love we were met with was wonderful. The spiritual growth that we experienced is almost beyond words. We all came back changed.”

Senior Adeline Holyfield said the trip was eye-opening. “Nicaragua is not a typical mission trip where you build houses or paint walls,” she said. “You make relationships with people who live in a completely different country. I learned that forming human relationships is the most powerful difference you can make. I have a whole new appreciation for my life and my friendships.”

Senior Emma Allemond said she most enjoyed the sense of community she witnessed. “I loved getting to be a part of that community for seven short days,” she said. “The people were so welcoming. Before we left Jorge Dimitrov, a boy came up and told us that we were not just their friends, but that we had become their family. That was my favorite part of the trip and made the whole experience worth it.”

Senior Claire Soileau said she truly appreciated being immersed in the country’s history and culture. “If I had to pick a favorite part of the trip, it would be when we were exchanging information about our daily lives,” she said. “We heard firsthand what it’s like to live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Nicaragua, and we got a glimpse of growing up in a third-world country. This experience was especially meaningful to me because Nicaragua was my third international mission trip but the only mission trip where I was treated with unbelievable hospitality and welcoming smiles every day. The people of Nicaragua live extremely simple lives, but their lives are surrounded by family, cultural traditions and, most of all, unending joy. I’ve never seen such happy individuals who offer such love and gratitude to the people around them.”

Senior Clare Barfield said that building relationships with those she met was especially gratifying. “We learned from one another, spread love to one another and opened our hearts to each other,” she said. “I learned about the importance of love and care for others. I learned the importance of community and simplicity. Many of the people we met lived in imaginable conditions compared to the way we live in the U.S., but their happiness was apparent. I enjoyed the interaction with the kids from the city the most because I got a chance to practice my Spanish, and I grew very close with some of the people. They were so incredibly loving and welcoming. This whole experience was absolutely incredible. Being able to form such loving relationships despite language barriers was very special. I came back from the trip with a new desire to live simpler and love more.”

 

Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Communications Director

 

Photos courtesy of Grace Brierre, Isabel Oatley and Madeline Ortego

 

Date posted: July 12, 2017

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