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September 21, 2017
GRHS students recount experiences in Nicaragua

Students on a service learning trip in NicaraguaBY: Nicole Sorenson and Lily Canella, seniors at GRHS

In June 2017, less than a week after school let out, a group of students and teachers from Grand Rapids High School set out on an adventure. The destination was Nicaragua and Costa Rica. For five days, we partnered with the Me to We non - governmental humanitarian organization to work on a service learning project of building a preschool and working on the school grounds. During this portion of the trip, we participated in activities with our Me to We coordinators as well. These activities were often in the evening during our down time, and they helped us develop team building skills.  We dug trenches, hand mixed concrete, constructed re-bars, planted trees, established a school garden, and finished the base foundation of the school. We learned to work hard and as a team to get as much done as we could. We also played and danced with the children when we weren't working. The community was very gracious and welcoming to us.

While in Nicaragua, we were able to experience the Nicaraguan way of life and see the drastic difference between their lives and how we live. Many people on the trip realized how fortunate we are and how much we take for granted in everyday life. The impact was very powerful and eye opening for us. Seeing the children that would attend the school made us realize just how important our project was. This project was both challenging and rewarding and left us with many memories and a new outlook on life.

We also visited a hearing impaired cafe called Café De Sonrisas in Grenada, Nicaragua where we were given earplugs and experienced how deaf people interact. This was a very interesting experience for all of us! At this cafe was a weaving workshop. Hammocks, bags, and purses were all woven there, and we got to try the weaving too.

The remainder of the trip was spent in Costa Rica. We learned and traveled as tourists and travelled all over the country. Costa Rica was a marvelous experience. We saw beautiful waterfalls and many jungle animals, including spider monkeys, sloths, snakes, howler monkeys, and iguanas. White water rafting and zip lining were both super excursions on the trip. All of the people that participated loved it. Zip lining gave us a cool view of the jungle and white water rafting was a crazy experience! (These were two of the favorite things we did!)  . We went through many beautiful different national parks in Costa Rica and saw hot springs, volcanoes, and geysers. We visited a waterfall and got to swim in the pool below it. Costa Rica was a fun and tropical place to visit and was a great way to end the trip!