Alternative Spring Break will travel to Ticuantepe, Nicaragua as a part of the Bridges to Community program, a non-profit cultural exchange program that aids in providing basic needs to the people living there. This year, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are sending 19 students to Nicaragua during Spring Break.
In the past, students have spent their week in Nicaragua helping to build homes alongside the people of Ticuantepe. Through the Bridges to Community program, the group has taken two previous trips to the Latin American country, helping rural communities to build two homes with each trip.
“There is no modern technology,” says Wendi Bacon ’12. “We mix the concrete; we dig the foundations and stack the bricks. But in the end – you get a house!”
The evenings are filled with cultural activities and learning opportunities. Last year, students were asked to create a budget for everyday items using an average Nicaraguan salary. Other nights, students were able to hold discussions with peers from the village about what it means to be Nicaraguan, and what patriotism means in each culture.
“The people there are so proud to be Nicaraguan,” remarks Bacon. “They want to share that with you, and they embrace you from day one – whether you speak Spanish or not.”
The Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua began when Carl Ranieri ’11 transformed his passion for the country into a community building opportunity nearly two years ago. Ranieri worked with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning to organize the first service project in 2009.
Last year, the group included nine HWS students. While the increase in participation is a wonderful indicator of the Colleges’ passion for the global community, it also means a greater need for fundraising. The first of the group’s fundraising efforts this year is “The Clutter Crew.” HWS faculty and staff will be able to hire a trip participant to help clean or organize their houses.
Bacon asks HWS students to keep an eye open for other fundraising activities that will occur between now and the group’s departure in March.