posted on: Thursday March 25, 2010
Kaitlyn Monast ’13 / News Staff
Fresh water, spacious dorm rooms, abundant food, and education are all available to most college students across the country. At the beginning of March, however, 12 Providence College students were given the opportunity to get out of the comfort of dorm life and immerse themselves in Nicaraguan culture. The students were enrolled in a class that focused on the history, future, and people of Nicaragua. In preparation for the trip, students learned about Nicaragua and its culture in Providence.Students traveled to Nicaragua expecting to leave their friends and family behind them. However, they said they discovered a new type of family on the trip.”One student, Martha Kingman ’12, put it best,” said Matthew Gendron ’12. “She said she felt at home in Nicaragua. They were so welcoming.”Liesl Huber ’12 agreed with Gendron.”There was a whole personal connections side to the trip,” she said. “In a few hours we built strong relationships with [the Nicaraguan people]. We knew what the people’s dreams are and what they hope to do in the future.”The students began forming relationships with Nicaraguans from the first day. The Flora family welcomed students into their home and into their kitchen to share a traditional meal of gallo pinto, rice and beans, squeaky cheese, fried, salty cheese, and maduros, fried plantains.During dinner, Lorena Flora, the mother of the family, showed the students pictures of her family. Lorena spoke of the importance of community and family, and how neighbors lean on each other for help. Hollis Dunlop ’12 explained to Lorena that many neighbors in America do not know each other. According to Dunlop, Lorena “could not even imagine such a thing.”Lorena also spoke about the influence of the organization Mana Project International, which is a non-governmental organization that offers Second Language classes that teach English and other after school programs.Diana, one of the Flora’s daughters, spoke English nearly fluently with the students. She shared her dreams of going to either medical school or law school. All the while, the four children and their mother stood crowded with the students in a four room house. “Just because it was not our ideal picture of a house does not mean it was any less of a house,” said Dan Kowalsky ’12. “They were so proud of what they had. I will never forget the turquoise house with hearts hung on the gate.”The students took part in the many Mana Project activities around the community, shadowing the organization. The students went to a one-room school that taught preschool students during the day and offered homework help after school to children of all ages.