A Life-Changing Journey Begins for Montclair State’s Team Nicaragua

Team Nicaragua gets ready to board a flight to begin their 10-day educational mission trip.

Feeding a family of four with just a small handful of coins is one of the first tasks twelve Montclair State University students will face upon arriving in Nicaragua on a 10-day educational mission trip. “We want to show them what a typical income is in a developing country and how that money isn’t sufficient for people to support themselves,” says Jhon Velasco, the group’s leader and Montclair State instructor of Health and Nutrition Sciences, as he described the student’s shopping challenge.

This is the sixth year that Velasco has taken a delegation of Montclair State students to Nicaragua to learn about the political, social, and economic disparities between developing countries and the US. “Students who have participated in past trips have been forever changed by the experience,” says Velasco. “They have an opportunity to see how US policies affect developing countries and understand how they can positively impact a community.”

During the trip the students will be blogging daily about their experiences and sharing photographs as they travel from Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, to the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa. In addition to stops at schools, clinics, and free trade zones, the itinerary includes a visit to an impoverished community that lives off recyclable waste collected from a huge city garbage dump and an orphanage that houses children and teens rescued from the sex trade and drug addiction. The visit will also include a session at the US Embassy in Nicaragua where the students will meet with embassy staff to discuss US policies toward Nicaragua.

To meet the twelve members of Team Nicaragua and travel along with them as they explore new cultures and ideas, follow the daily blog at: http://www.teamnica2012.blogspot.com/