2014 Nicaragua Video

On November 5th, Xavier had an International Studies assembly. It is so exciting how many trips our girls can participate in to help inspire them to play an active role locally as well as globally to develop their leadership potential. Xavier now has trips to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paris, Germany and now…. Italy for Catholic Youth Day!

We hope you enjoy the video from our 2014 trip created by one of our participants. Thank you Molly!!!

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The end AND the beginning.

One of my favorite components of the Me to We trip is the leadership aspect. The trip is not solely about working in the communities and  learning about the Nicaraguan culture. It is about the people and the country, but also of learning about local and global issues. Opening up yourself to things around you that you may not have paid attention to before. The lessons and work we do in Nicaragua don’t stop as we board the plane. It doesn’t even stop after we have landed in Phoenix, had a tall glass of cold water or soda and some american food. After arriving back home and sharing  experiences with  family and friends, our amazing  Xavier girls are already planning on how to “GIVE BACK.” Now this is not a foreign concept to these young women. Most of them have been volunteering and giving back in their community for years. This trip though really opens them up to not only giving back in their own community but also being global citizens and how they can help beyond their own backyard.

These ideas become ACTION PLANS! After thinking and discussing issues that are important to them, each girl develops an action plan to help her area of concern. This can be as simple as doing research and sharing/educating family and friends. This can also be fundraising or collecting for different organizations locally or globally. Students in a Spanish 1 class made alphabet books to help line the shelves of the San Diego library. While purchasing morning coffee, fair trade is discussed. The 2013 group, led by Shana, held a Zumba night where the proceeds were allocated to helping communities in Nicaragua have clean water.

As chaperons, we are thrilled  to share this experience with such amazing young women of faith. We are continually taken aback at how openly the girls give of themselves while here as they leave behind the comforts of home- ice, technology, electricity. This enthusiasm of giving back continues on  home soil as the girls share their experiences with others and continue to make a difference in world both locally and globally!!!!!! Gators…….. you truly are special. Thank you all for the wonderful memories!

Please check back with us periodically as we will post information on the action plans.

Nicaragua 2014

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Los Cardones and San Diego

I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm as we traveled the roads to our beach destination- Los Cardones. As we got closer I made sure that everyone was awake so they could appreciate the drive in. I kept saying- almost there, almost there, as we traveled the long dirt roads. The drive is worth it as you enter  through a large tree grove where the branches shade the sun. We deemed it- the bridge to Los Cardones :) I was truly overjoyed to be able to share this beautiful location with my colleagues and students. What a perfect place to relax and reflect on the experiences we had had.

The Los Cardones website says “they are a true Nicaraguan surf camp experience.” I’m sure this is true, but for me it’s like returning to a home away from home. The joy of seeing Laurie, Isaac (the owners) and their beautiful children. The big warm bear hugs the staff give you upon returning, welcoming you back with big smiles and asking if I remember THEM. Hello……… absolutely I do, and very fondly. If you travel to Nicaragua and are fortunate enough to stay at Los Cardones, it will make a mark on your heart, and it is impossible to forget the amazing vistas and people who work there.

Ok- my heart rate finally went down after I was reassured that in fact Los Cardones is amazing, and it wasn’t just my nostalgia talking. Phew!!!  We were there  for just a couple of days, but would be spending half a day in San Diego and the rest of the time reflecting on our experiences and enjoying the beach, the hammocks and the wonderful food-including dessert. Hooray

Admittedly, it was really hot…. and we are from Phoenix, so thats really saying something, but we’re not use to humidity.  We were tough though and very appreciative of  the little battery fans provided in the rooms this year and since we weren’t  winning any beauty contests the weather  didn’t put any sort of damper on the joy we had of being there. I just couldn’t wait for night time when all of the famous crabs come out and rustle the leaves making your heart rate jump just a little the first time you hear it. Don’t forget those headlamps!

 

We spent half a day in San Diego, where  girls from our last two years volunteered. I couldn’t wait for the girls to help decorate the library our girls broke ground on two years ago. Or sit and chat with our friends on the cement bench that last years girls helped make. And what was so wonderful was seeing this years group play with the kids in San Diego as if they were dear friends. The girls had heard so much about the kids in San Diego, and had seen pictures that friendship was almost immediate and a very serious game of soccer quickly ensued. I am still not sure who won the game, and its not important, but I do recall one of our girls, who plays soccer, say she had to “play all out” to keep it even. They may not have a beautiful field to play on , and sometimes their balls are flat, but boy are they great little players.

While those who braved the soccer game battled it out outside, the other girls were inside coloring, drawing and gluing super fun objects on a large banner that would decorate the library. It was fun to see and hear the communication between them. Each were shy in the beginning for their own reasons, but by the time we left, smiles and hugs were all that was seen.

I felt especially blessed to see Karla. She is a community mama that shared her home and discussed her daily life with us on our first trip to Nicaragua. Fast friendships developed, and it has been wonderful to see her each summer as well as her kids. To see them grow, them all grow, is a true blessing. I cherish and thank her for her warmth and kindness, along with the other community members that are just such wonderful people.

You too can see the children grow over the last three years and what the gators have worked on by checking out the flickr photos. We hope you enjoy.

2013 and 2014:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/gatorsgiveback/sets/

2012 blog and photos:  http://gatorsgiveback.wordpress.com/

 

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Masatepe Market

In Phoenix, the farmers markets are gaining popularity and are popping up in different locations throughout the city.  I know that a lot of people have spent years going to these markets and buying fresh, locally grown items and produce but for some of us , especially if we do not do the grocery shopping, this is a little new.  The Nicaraguans are not new to locally grown, organic food and we were able to visit a true Nicaraguan market. What a treat to truly see the culture through local eyes.This was definitely not a tourist market as various locals young and old were buying their daily items. The energy was upbeat as music was heard playing from several stalls, and we all enjoyed visiting the different stalls, talking to and bargaining with the locals.

The girls were put into groups and given a family demographic- parents, kids, grandparents etc. They then had to plan the meals for the day for the family, and purchase the food at the market with the amount of money the family might make based on their profession.The girls were intimidated at first- being the only tourists in the market and having to speak Spanish while buying food with very little money in a foreign country. They did so great and really enjoyed the experience.

Photos:    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gatorsgiveback/sets/

(Look under Nicaragua 2014 and you can scroll through our experience)

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El Trapiche Water Walk

The water walk is an important activity on the Me to We trip. We were able to spend the morning with a community mama and experience the walk she once had to make in order to retrieve water for her family. She use to have to walk  2 kilometers with large buckets to the water pump. There were no guarantees that it was working once she got there. Oftentimes, the electricity was out and she would  then have to wait patiently for hours sometimes in to take water back to her family for cooking, cleaning and drinking.

Because of the Me to We adopt a village program, the local mamas no longer need to walk 2 kilometers to get their water. There is water right at the school that has been built by various Me to We groups during the past three years.

This walk had so much impact on us all. How many times do we walk to the sink or the refrigerator to get clean,  cold water to drink or use for washing?

Although it was truly a beautiful walk, I am so pleased they don’t have to spend so much time getting water. These mamas are so INSPIRING and we all feel so blessed to have spent time with them. Thank you!!!

Pictures of our walk in El Trapiche.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gatorsgiveback/sets/

 

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El Trapiche work

 Some work pictures…..

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The students made the work site a little safer for the students by putting a little wall around the rocks. It’s a good thing the gators are strong! and not afraid of a little scorpion.

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Some photos of work and rest……. as it was hot and humid, we had the girls take frequent water breaks to stay hydrated.

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Because we had a long ride to get to the work site, we had lunch in the bus to save time. This worked out well, because we all were in need of some much appreciated air conditioning for a few minutes. :)

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Working in El Trapiche cont’

Holes dug, cement mixed……… up next- the garden.

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The students of El Trapiche were hard at work before we arrived, getting the ground ready by raking and clearing the land.

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The garden was made with recycled tires. A whole one placed on the bottom, and a half tire on the top. The girls painted them bright colors to help with which fruit, vegetable would be planted.

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The students of El Trapiche will help plant and take care of the plants. The food they grow will be used for the students and community members.

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