Alternative Spring Break in Nicaragua

Joe Pelletier

For Kelsey Ives, the reason for going down to Nicaragua to aid families is simple.

“It’s something a good human should do,” she said. Ives, a junior, has been to Nicaragua seven times, and she will not be stopping this year.

The spring break trip to Nicaragua, sponsored by the Albert Schweitzer Institute, has been in place for six years at Quinnipiac, and student interest has risen each year; for the informational sessions this year, an estimated 250-300 students showed interest.

“This year was a huge increase from last year in participation,” Ives said. “It feels like the word has gotten out more and more each year, and it’s really awesome to see so many people.”

Ives is among four other leaders who are currently deciding which students will actually be asked to go–out of more than 100 applications only 16 will be given the opportunity.

The leaders are currently narrowing down the applications, and following that there will be an interview process with the remaining applicants. Those who are selected to be interviewed will most likely be alerted around the third week in October. Following the interviews, decisions will be made as to what 16 will be chosen.

In the past, QU students have taken part in building classrooms, irrigation systems, and gardens–and it has not been as simple as one would guess.

“We don’t have a lot of tools down there,” Ives said. “We’ve had to mix our own cement, dig trenches–it’s not like doing work in America. These people have a quarter of what we are lucky enough to have here. It’s really an eye-opening experience.”

And for Ives, the experience provides an invaluable reward.
“Doing this is one of the most selfless things you can do,” she said. “And there’s no monetary benefit–you’re not getting anything tangible in return. But the change that occurs because of the trip is the best part; seeing a change in both Nicaragua and in the students who go. It empowers them. It puts them better in tune with what they can do the help the world around them.”

Ives was unsure of what was planned in Nicaragua this year, but she and the other leaders will head there in November and discuss with officials what needs to be done.

“Our plan is currently unknown,” she said. “We try to be as receptive as possible to the Nicaraguans’ ideas. We don’t want to have them think we know what we are doing, because really, it is about helping them the best way we can.”