It’s never too early to start thinking about what you will do with your summer break. Last summer I had an incredible opportunity to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua. I will truly never forget the incredible relationships and special memories that I made. This trip has shaped the way I see global service, international politics, poverty, community, gratitude, happiness, and so much more. Serving in Nicaragua has certainly been one of the highlights of my life, and I would encourage everyone to go serve abroad. Traveling to serve is one of the most rewarding and affordable ways to see the world. Don’t ever let money hold you back from going on a trip like this, because if it is something you are passionate about, you will be able to find people who will be passionate about helping you make it happen. My trip was made possible by grants that I received from the Friends for Civic Engagement and from the Division of Continuing and Global Education.
The organization that I went through, Students International, really does global service work the right way. They work closely with people of the country to understand what their needs are and how to best meet them. Each of the service teams are all led by Nicaraguans who helped us connect to and understand those that we were serving. The service teams included education, social work, water filters, microfinance, and medical. I had the pleasure of serving on the Social Work Team. The team was led by Maria Jose and Miriam, two compassionate, inspiring, strong, and selfless Nicaraguan women. Our main focus was on empowering women as there is not much respect or gender equality in Nicaragua. Through home visits and community groups we would form relationships with the girls, teens, and women in the small communities surrounding Masaya in order to understand and improve their current situation.
Interacting with these women and girls was my absolute favorite part of the trip. Although we were there to help and support them, I always left feeling so inspired and empowered by them. In the two short weeks we were there we conducted over a dozen home visits, had dinner in the home of a family, threw parties for Mother’s Day and Child’s Day, played countless games, connected with about 50 women and children, taught skills such as pottery painting, jewelry making, and bag making, visited four communities, and made lasting memories. Being able to spend two weeks encouraging these ladies by reminding them of their beauty, capabilities, and worth was so inspiring. I was completely humbled by this experience and felt so honored to be apart of their lives.
I could spend hours sharing pictures, memories, and stories from Nicaragua; but what I really want to share is this experience. Please go. Go serve, love, learn, play, grow, give, and experience another country. Your life and your perspective will never be the same.
What global issues are you passionate about? What is your dream location for an international service project?