Students share Nicaragua experiences

Members of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) were some of the students who visited Nicaragua for summer projects. (Abby Hocking  / Photo Assistant)
Members of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) were some of the students who visited Nicaragua for summer projects. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

By Paige Giorla
Correspondent

Not everyone stayed close to the Jersey Shore this summer. Students from two different organizations who journeyed to Nicaragua to complete separate projects came together on Oct. 7 to share their experiences with faculty and their fellow students.

Twelve girls from Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) and their group leader went to Nicaragua in June to complete the Nicaragua Solidarity Project. Six students who are Bonner Community Scholars also went to Nicaragua during the summer. Their project was given the name “Bonneragua,” and was taken with their director and another organization, Witness for Peace.

The Nicaragua Solidarity Project allowed the girls in WILL to see the struggles and successes of “socially, economically, politically marginalized people,” said Carolin Guentert, junior international studies major.

“Their reality and our reality are so different, and yet they have no complaints,” said Debra Cho, senior biology and women and gender studies major.

The students self-funded their trip, through fundraisers, odd jobs and personal donations.

In an outreach to the students of the College, they explained the ways that you can help — donate, volunteer, or create your own solidarity project.

“Instead of guilt, you should use your privilege,” said Janine Bernardo, a senior biology major.

The girls ended their presentation with a quote they heard from a woman on their trip. “How do you reinvest in a world that keeps breaking your heart?”

The second half of the presentation was given by two members of the “Bonneragua” trip.

Besides sharing photos of cultural dances and sharing other memories, the students recounted their discomforting trip to the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, where the supposed leaders admitted to not even going out on the streets or really getting to know the people of the land.

The two students also described a place they visited called “The Dump” where many impoverished Nicaraguans live and find refuge.

“To see their optimism keeps me going,” said Jonathan Waltz, senior management major.

They also showed the audience pictures of Free Trade Zones and their day at the beach, which was mostly empty except for a few stands that sold hand-made trinkets.

Megan Torpey, junior physics major, came to the presentation in support of her friend who went on the WILL trip.

“It’s very easy to go on living and not think about (the situation in Nicaragua). This is eye-opening,” she said.