Bucknell Brigade celebrates 20 years of work in Nicaragua

“Solidarity, Sustainability and International Civic Engagement”

Isabel Carden, Contributing Writer

The Bucknell Brigade celebrated 20 years of working alongside the people of Nicaragua to provide disaster relief on Oct. 25. The Bucknell Brigade was founded in 1999, when a group of volunteers from the University traveled to Nicaragua to provide aid following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. After being turned away from many major NGOs, the group of students were welcomed into the Jubilee House Community (JHC), a non-profit that promotes empowerment and self-sustainability for communities in Nicaragua. The JHC will celebrate its 40th anniversary of providing relief and focusing on solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.

When the two groups first joined together, the conditions were not ideal. All 36 members shared an extra room built into the side of an existing member’s house. However, these obstacles did not affect the Brigade’s work.

Due to civil disturbances within Nicaragua since April of 2018, the University is unable to arrange the service trip this year. However, to celebrate 20 years of working with the Jubilee House Community, members Mike Woodard and Kathleen Murdock were brought to the University to share their experiences in Nicaragua. The main focus of the event was, “Solidarity, Sustainability and International Civic Engagement.”

Both Woodard and Murdock expressed their approval and praise of the Bucknell Brigade. “If you want to know how to do it right, contact those folks who set up the Bucknell Brigade,” they said. Murdock also shared extensive statistics proving how groups such as the Brigade have significantly improved conditions in Nicaragua.

Another important belief of the Brigade and of JHC is the idea of solidarity. Murdock explained the commitment surrounding solidarity. “One cannot be in solidarity with another, or truly work with one another, if once things get hard, they cut and run,” she said. Furthermore, working in solidarity is about emphasizing community and not allowing “dominant culture” to define others. JHC believes one cannot truly help those in need if they have an attitude of superiority.

The Bucknell Brigade is linked to the University’s Office of Civic Engagement. Originally titled the Office of Service Learning, the Office of Civic Engagement centers around the University’s values of community affairs and civic duty. This asset to campus began after the Brigade in order to further encourage social work for students at the University.

The Bucknell Brigade hopes to continue their work in Nicaragua next year.

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