Doing good around the globe

Steph Houser, Contributing Writer

Over winter break, three different University groups embarked on service trips abroad, including the Bucknell Brigade’s trip to Nicaragua, the Engineers for Sustainable Development’s (ESD) trip to Peru, and a new service trip to Nepal.

The Bucknell Brigade has been taking trips to Nicaragua for the past 15 years, and each Brigade returns with incredible stories and a love for “Nica” and its people. This group’s experience was no different, as they worked in the health clinic in Nueva Vida doing maintenance, working in the pharmacy, and translating for the doctor on the trip.

The 20 students and four faculty members on the trip traveled to sites such as the El Porvenir coffee co-operative, the Masaya Volcano National Park, the Laguna de Apoyo, and many historical places in the capital Managua.

The group faced a variety of challenges in Nicaragua, from logistical to ideological. For example, the Brigade faced a challenge when their mini bus broke down, and group leader Stephanie Schneider ’14 expressed the challenge of reconciling United States actions in Nicaragua and their negative impacts.

The Brigade fundraises for the clinic in Nueva Vida in events such as a silent auction and a 5K in the fall.

As for the ESD’s trip to Peru, although this was the first year of the trip, it proved to be a resounding success after the students experienced cultural enrichment from interacting with the Peruvians and tangibly changed the lives of those in the village of Lobitos. The group of six engineering students and Kevin Gilmore, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, spent their time working with an organization called WAVES to help analyze the soil in the area and design a community center. They also interviewed families who had applied for concrete floors, a major sanitation improvement.

Learning to surf, playing soccer, and playing with the children were other activities the group enjoyed during their trip to Peru. The students were inspired by the culture and attitude of the Peruvians. 

“Try not to stress about life, enjoy it because it is something beautiful that everyone shares. You can choose to be happy. That is really what I took from my experience in Peru,” Molly Cantrell ’16 said.

According to ESD’s new president Taylor Schumann ’16, the trip will be offered annually from now on.

Finally, a group of students traveled to Nepal as part of another new service trip. The group spent their first five days in Kathmandu where they taught English to children at a camp. The students spent a lot of time with the kids, teaching them American games like Duck, Duck, Goose as well as learning games from the Nepali children. They also spent two days in the jungle where they visited an elephant reserve and were bathed by elephants, a trip favorite according to participant Heather Smith ’14.

The trip concluded after two more days in Kathmandu. The participants hope that the trip will continue to be offered in years to come.

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