Spring break: students give back


Natalie Spears, Features Editor

Over spring break, while others were jetting off to ski resorts or basking in Caribbean suns, a select group of University students chose to spend their vacation helping various impoverished regions around the country and the globe. The Brigade to Nicaragua, Habitat for Humanity, and B.A.C.E.S (Bucknell Advancing Communities: Educating and Serving) all took place this past spring break, seeking to aid and improve cities across the Americas. Students and staff who participated in these programs spoke about their service and shared some of their most memorable moments.

Bucknell Brigade to Nicaragua

Where: Nueva Vida in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua

“Ciudad Sandino is one of the most impoverished cities in the country and is located just outside the capital city of Managua. Nueva Vida is a barrio of Ciudad Sandino that was originally established as a resettlement community for people displaced by Hurricane Mitch. Over the years, it has become more and more permanent, but community members still live in poverty.” – Jillian Korn, Brigade Student Leader


Students who participate in the Brigade commit to doing 20 hours of service throughout the academic year in addition to the trip to Nicaragua. While in Nicaragua, participants worked on many tasks to help the clinic. Some of the indoor tasks included helping in the pharmacy, cataloging and sorting the medical supplies that were donated and working on a big project to update and sort the many patient files there. Outside, we worked on construction of a third clinic building.” – Erica Merriett, Brigade Staff Leader


“The goal of the trip is for participants to learn more about the history, culture and future of Nicaragua while also helping as much as we can at the clinic. Through some touring, guest speakers and interacting with people at the clinic and the coffee cooperative, I think these goals were definitely achieved.” – Erica Merriett, Brigade Staff Leader


“One of my favorite parts of the trip was the afternoon we spent with muralist Gerardo Arias. Gerardo welcomed us into his home and also gave us a tour of the community center where he teaches art classes. It was really inspiring to hear his passion for empowering youth in Nicaragua through art.” Jillian Korn, Brigade Student Leader


Where: Mendoza, Dominican Republic

“Mendoza is a small town outside the capital city of Santo Domingo. We go there every year so we’ve basically become a part of the community there and we get to help the same families year to year” – Christina L’Insalata, B.A.C.E.S Student Leader


The B.A.C.E.S student group had arranged several service projects for this trip before heading to the Dominican Republic. They organized an outreach day, with a doctor and brought medical donations (painkillers, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, etc.). Students worked renovating two greenhouses for a women’s agricultural cooperative, they cleaned and painted a community park and basketball court, and they worked in a mountainous rural setting installing water tanks that collected rainwater” – Eric Martin, B.A.C.E.S Staff Leader


[Students] were very successful in learning a great deal about the needs of folks in the Dominican Republic, and in providing service – the question, as always, is how sustainable that service is over time, and the group spent a great deal of time talking about this in nightly discussion sessions.” – Eric Martin, B.A.C.E.S. Staff Leader


My favorite part was definitely being able to interact with the people there and even though there’s a language barrier, it’s so easy to find ways to communicate with everyone there. In terms of service projects, my favorite part was going back to the woman’s co-op in Triple Ozama where we worked last year to help them start a passion fruit plantation.

Habitat for Humanity

Where: Albermarle, North Carolina

“Albermarle is a very small, very southern town near Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the best things about the people in this area are that they are all perfectly exemplify ‘Southern hospitality.” – Ellie Tupper, Habitat for Humanity Student Leader


The students did a variety of tasks required to get the house ready for the home’s owner; some students measured, cut, and installed vinyl siding, while others did tasks related to framing the interior of the house. This work involved using various power tools and learning construction techniques” – Ron Marquette, Habitat for Humanity Staff Leader


The main goal for the students was that they make a difference. This goal was achieved. Because there were ten of us working for five days, we were able to make a great deal of progress on moving the project toward completion. The end result of achieving this goal is that the home’s owner and her family will be able to move into the home sooner than if we had not been there.” – Ron Marquette, Habitat for Humanity Staff Leader


My favorite part about the trip was getting to see the same members of the Albemarle community that I have met in previous years. It was nice to be able to see them and work with them one last time before graduation. The most rewarding part of the trip would probably have to be meeting the recipient of the home. She was so incredibly thankful.” Ellie Tupper, Habitat for Humanity Student Leader


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