Volunteer, the College of William and Mary
Flashback three years, when my friend asked me if I would be interested in going on a trip with her to Nicaragua with some organization called Bridges to Community. My initial reaction? I laughed. No chance. But after talking it through with her for many many days and many many hours, I decided it was time to do something completely out of my comfort zone. And I did it.
Flash forward to the present day, and I can truly say that the decision to join that trip was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It was love at first sight. I was amazed by the culture, by the people, by the abundance of natural beauty. I couldn’t believe how quickly that cot in a classroom became my home, my haven, and the people working beside me (both from my group and those in the community) became my family.
I can truly say that I have grown and changed as a person, my life has gone in an entirely different direction, and I am for the very first time, incredibly excited for the prospects that my future holds. I now have just one year left of school, and after that I plan to move to Nicaragua for the foreseeable future to continue doing all I can to help, but even more importantly, continue learning and growing thanks to a country that has such an incredible amount to give.
Volunteer, Davidson College
My experience with Bridges to Community started in February of 2012. I was a silly sophomore in high school, unaware of the momentous leap I was about to take. What I failed to understand at the time was that I was and am unbelievably lucky. The temple to which I belong, Temple Shaaray Tefila of Bedford Corners, NY, had an annual Bridges trip established years before I knew what Nicaragua is. So I decided that I wanted to go, which my parents fully supported.
When the plane touched down in Managua, Nicaragua, my first word was (if I remember correctly) “wow.” That is a sentiment that transcended the entire trip. I was consistently surprised by the amazing culture of Nicaragua. The landscape is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the food is delicious.
I can’t describe what it feels like to participate in building a house, and I can’t describe what it’s like to call someone a friend after ten minutes of working together. But, I can say that the work week in Nicaragua forever changed me, and undoubtedly for the better. I quickly learned that the difficulty in verbal communication was not truly important. I also learned that there is a universal language of smiles, high-fives, and thumbs up. And that, to me, is all anyone could ever need.
Volunteer, Rye Country Day School
I first participated in a Bridges to Community trip in 2011 with a group from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Larchmont, NY. I was so incredibly impressed by the attitudes and reflections it brought out in my peers, both young and old, and by the unwavering dedication to self- improvement and community improvement of the Nicaraguan people that I knew I wanted to go back. As I was attending Rye Country Day School, I approached the Director of Public Purpose about taking a group of students to Nicaragua with Bridges to Community for a senior term project. Rye Country Day School took its first international public purpose trip in 2013 during my senior year.
I am now a student at Georgetown University, and I frequently find myself thinking about that first time I went down to Nicaragua to work on a house in Ticuantepe for a family led by an incredible woman named Fatima. On that trip I learned the difference between concrete and cement, I improved my Spanish skills, I laughed, I sweated, and most importantly, I learned about a very little part of Fatima’s life and her society.