From January 9th to 17th, Chartine took an excursion to Nicaragua with the Bucknell Brigade before starting her Spring 2016 semester. The rigor of her academic schedule as a Mechanical Engineering major is now underway, but here in this reflection, she shares the rewarding moments spent in Central America while actively engaged in service-learning work.
The Bucknell Brigade was started years ago when a student went to Nicaragua to serve among a resettlement community outside the capital city of Managua, where they realized the depth of the needs of the people there. Ever since that student returned in 1999, Bucknell has been sending its students to Nicaragua for a week as part of the school’s “Brigade” service-learning program.
I heard about the program from my friends, who told me how much it changed their lives when they took part in it. I decided I wanted to see for myself what the program was like and contribute my time and energy to impacting other people’s lives within the Nicaraguan community.
Bucknell Brigade students partner with the Jubilee House Community and the Center for Development in Central America while in Nicaragua. The people within this particular community use whatever little resources they have to try and help local Nicaraguans. Currently, one of their biggest projects is building a third health clinic.
Nicaragua is a poor country, but the people are very smart and innovative in that they use what little they have to come up with something so useful. The group I traveled with had some funny experiences where we went up a mountain into a tractor – believe me when I say a tractor! Twenty-five of us all holding on to each other for support and then spending the night in hammocks because there were no beds in an open space on top of a mountain. The view was extraordinary, but I wasn't able to sleep because the hammock was too small for me, so I watched over everyone! I loved it.
The Friday before we came back, we went to a discoteca and danced to good music while enjoying rum which is so popular in Nicaragua. I won “best dance moves” on stage – what honor to receive such a title from my colleagues!
Lastly, we went to an extraordinary lake for a swim. My colleagues and I learned so much about the Nicaraguan culture, politics and values, and got to interact with them in a very valuable and rewarding way. We tried to play baseball with them but we lost every time. It was a friendly match. We also put down the foundation of the third building for a clinic, distributed medicine at the pharmacy, and shadowed doctors in consultation and house visits!
In summary, it was a rewarding experience -- not forgetting the bugs! I was so tired from working so hard everyday, but the food was great and, thankfully, I didn’t get sick! a little inside of what happened in Nicaragua.
If you have the means to support the Jubilee House Community and Center for Development in Central America and would like to contribute to their cause and the development of their third health clinic, please give at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/jhc-cdca. Thank you!
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