I spend most of my working time around 3 to 12 year olds. That makes my job one of the best I can imagine. But I have also discovered I really like hanging out with teenagers. Most of the opportunities to do that in the last four years have been with my involvement in the School2School trip to Nicaragua, developing the relationship with our partner school Centro de Fe y Vida Nueva (C de F). I have been deeply blessed by the grade 11 and 12 students who have been part of the two teams I have gone with and am already enjoying getting to know the members of this year’s team.
Of course, I don’t go on this trip just to spend time with teenagers. So why do I go? Why did I make this trip the focus of my Master’s project? Why is my wife so gracious and understanding of how important this trip is, that she is letting me leave her for eleven days at Spring Break for the third time in four years?
A high level answer is that global connections are becoming increasingly important and will likely be a very real part of the lives of our students’ futures.
That’s all well and good and important, but people and stories are the real motivation for this trip. Let me tell about a few.
Sandra is the principal at C de F. She is one of my top role models. Her passion for her students is such a joy to witness. Many of the students in the school are not Christians and come from very difficult situations. Gangs are prevalent in Managua, where the school is located. On our last trip, a graduate from C de F talked about how the school brought him out of the gang lifestyle. He spoke specifically to the part that Sandra played in his transformation. As students are transformed, families are transformed, the community is transformed.
The second story is about the way the “helping” portion of this trip is organized—the actual expenses (food, lodging, travel) for our students are mostly paid for by students themselves. All the fundraising we do and the portion the school pays, goes towards developing Christian schools in Nicaragua. But the money we contribute does not go directly to C de F or even the school that we might go work on. This keeps our relationship level. The money is distributed on an as need basis to the schools that need it. What I really like is that the money goes to buy locally sourced material and to pay local tradespersons. The number of North Americans who go there and build things is minimal.
So, if you see a Nicaraguan Team fundraiser, know that it isn’t to give a small group of students a special experience, but part of developing Christian education and transforming communities.
Check out the video from last year’s trip!