Nicaragua Faculty/Staff Immersion Trip
Testimonials from past trip participants
On a personal level this was much more of an educational experience than I had ever imagined. I think there is no doubt that any of us who work with students come back to campus from Nicaragua with a much deeper understanding of international and even domestic service/immersion experiences and their role in an integrated education. For me personally, I am committed more than ever to developing academic experiences that weave experiential learning into the fabric of the course and correspondingly help students enter these experiences with a fuller academic/analytical understanding of the many forces at work and I think all of us represent a growing cadre of folks bound together by this shared Nicaragua experience who understand the richness of the international Jesuit education system and the opportunities it represents. This now represents a large enough group to perhaps focus on some specific initiative. And of course we came back with a raft of ideas for new connecting programs like a UCA faculty exchange, connecting all our service trips with the local JVI where possible, having a student agency import and sell fair trade gifts and coffee, using alumni volunteers as electronic resources for students interested in volunteer work here. The expansion of consciousness of BC faculty and staff has to have many unforeseen effects on our lives and our decisions that enhance the quality of a BC education as well.
~J. Joseph Burns, Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Faculties
After many years of working with and supporting students and staff on service trips (but never going) this trip has given me a greater appreciation for the work that those students, faculty and staff have done. I also think that this experience has really changed the way I think about the world and challenged assumptions about poverty, loyalty to country, and community service. For faculty and staff who perhaps are not entirely familiar with or aligned with the institutional mission and goals, this experience can certainly help articulate those.
~Carole Hughes, Executive Director, Assessment & Staff Development,
Office of Student Affairs
Meeting our three former BC students who have moved to Nicaragua and started programs that help so many - like Laura (Hopps, '08), Christine (Ruppert, '08), and Margaret (Nuzzolese, '07) have done - is inspiring. I will talk about these three women for many years and will sing their praises with my co-workers for the remainder of my career.
I was also touched by the way that my fellow travelers were affected by what they saw. I watched one be moved to tears over the human suffering that we witnessed in just a few seconds through a bus window. That image is burned into my brain and will be with me forever. I felt helpless so many times that it broke my heart almost every day. Seeing poverty in its rawest form has to touch you or you can't call yourself a human being. But then I was renewed with the knowledge that people are helping each other, believing that life will be better for their kids, working hard to make that happen and staying strong in their faith and belief that God is watching over them and that better days are ahead.
Thank you for giving me this education and personal growth. I'm a different person because of this trip; I'm a better person and a better employee because of this trip. "Men and women for others" has taken on a new meaning for me since I've been home.
~Fred Winslow, Boston College Police Officer
The Nicaragua experience challenged my role and responsibility as a global citizen in an unequal world. I continue to struggle with how to use my position as a member of an affluent community to influence outcomes for people who are less privileged. I also grapple with what it means to be created in God's image and how to reconcile that with the "impoverished" and "emaciated" images of a magnificent God.
One of the values of this trip to the BC community is that it exposes the community to different perspectives - culturally, politically, and economically. It is also an opportunity for sincere engagement with issues that we do not normally address, bringing issues of social justice and human rights to the forefront. I especially appreciated the fact that I was privileged to meet and get to know members of the BC community, whom I may have never had the chance to meet and know.
~Margaret Lombe, Assistant Professor, Global Practice, Graduate School of Social Work
I appreciated the space for my own and the group's reflections on the many perspectives from our face-to-face meetings and in our readings. The experience shaped the way I view dialogue as a helpful opportunity to be dissatisfied, discontent, and restless rather than accept the state of the world, the discrepancy in distribution of our resources, and the state of poverty. The experience shaped the way I see humility as perhaps the most important element in participating in dialogue in a way that respects others' experience and allows for the possibility of transformation. The experiences and reflection were connected in meaningful ways, but the possibiities for action in changing either our environment or ourselves were particularly helpful in bringing full circle the week in Nicaragua. The action steps were presented as concrete ways to move forward and continue to grow in our experiences and reflection.
I anticipate returning to Nicaragua and developing students trips, but one of my immediate action steps is to describe action as a key component of experience and reflection. For example, in my health communication courses at Boston College we explore aging, disability, health disparities, inability to pay for healthcare and lack of access to healthcare for many individuals. The Nicaragua experience provided vivid examples of action steps in ways that make a difference to others and ways that change us. The experience allows me to engage differently with students who participate in immersion/education experiences and with students who seek these experiences.
~Ashley Duggan, Assistant Professor, Communications Department
As a faculty member, I have a wonderful opportunity to reach large numbers of students through my courses, and the trip will impact the way I teach. I'll give one specific example. I teach a large genetics course for students who are not majoring in biology, and we debate controversial issues, such as genetically-modified foods, which people view quite differently around the world. Students tend to take a very North American view of these issues, and I've been concerned about how they can attain a more international perspective. In the course, I also summarize for students new research results from the big genome studies of populations around the world. These studies are shedding light on differences between people, but also showing how interrelated we are. The opportunity to meet so many wonderful Nicaraguans has reinforced for me our common humanity. While on our trip, I realized I had a new theme for my course: our global family. I'll carry the theme through the semester and we'll divide the class into "families" from around the world who will work together through the semester.
I think it's important for faculty, staff, and administrators, to have experiences such as Nicaragua. By virtue of our positions in the university, we have significant responsibilities for shaping students intellectually and personally. Many of our students, like me, have led comfortable and rather sheltered lives. Faculty, staff, and administrators have a role to play in broadening our students' world views.
The trip also provided an important opportunity for people from different parts of the university to meet each other. Most of our time is spent within our own departments, and faculty members rarely interact with administrators who work on the student life side of the university. Since the university is shaping the whole student, it's important for the academic and student life people to meet each other. We have a lot to learn from each other.
~Clare O'Connor, Associate Professor, Biology Department
What I learned about teacher preparation and public education in Nicaragua will shape some of what I do in my Classrom Assessment course this fall. The impact of having a cadre of people (now numbering around 100) at a single institution who have a shared experience like this one enhances the University's social justice mission in a truly unique way. I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity.
~Joseph Pedula, Associate Professor, LSOE