Going to Nicaragua to Find the World’s Children

It started with an idea. Simple as that.

After spending the better part of first semester reading articles about children’s human rights issues, everything from child labor, to sex-trafficking, to female genital mutilation, we, the students of professor Kathleen Cain’s first-year seminar, The World’s Children, began to have a lot of ideas.

Somebody asked a simple question, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could go somewhere—really travel somewhere—and see these things for ourselves, help the people we see, really understand what these concepts mean in real life?”

The very next class session, Professor Cain said she had “looked into some options for us” and offered us the chance to travel to Nicaragua on a volunteering service trip together through Project Gettysburg-León (PGL), an organization based in Gettysburg that provides funding for projects like water treatment facilities, electrical infrastructure, and education initiatives in León, Nicaragua, the country’s second biggest city.

And the rest is history.

The trip was a life-changing experience for many, the first time out of the country for some, and an unforgettable journey for all. While in Nicaragua, we participated in a myriad of activities and visited many places, from the incredibly rural mountain village of Talolinga to the afterschool program Las Tías in the city, the solar oven-building project in Monte Horet to the summit of volcano Cerro Negro for a decidedly wild ride.

The trip answered many of our initial questions about injustice and children’s rights, but ended up supplying us with more complicated, more meaningful, and sometimes more distressing questions about how to combat these issues of poverty, education, and gender in the future. We might not have all the answers to our questions yet, but undoubtedly, our journey to Nicaragua helped mold us into more active and engaged learners, more aware treasurers of our rights, and, ultimately, more invested global citizens.

This exhibit is on display in Musselman Library.