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Nicaragua trip aims to help Chemeketa community in many ways

By Sadie Verville

An upcoming trip to Nicaragua for Chemeketa students isn’t just about helping rural communities.

It’s also about helping Chemeketa students right here, right now.

“The purpose of this trip is to help connect students to issues that might be happening right here, and also to connect them with issues that might be happening overseas,” Teter Kapan, the college’s director of International Studies, said.

“Once students participate in the program, the goal is for them to see where their place is and how they too can make a difference.”

A global perspective can be an important educational tool.

“Sometimes global issues seem overwhelming, and it’s easy to get isolated in our own little worlds,” Kapan said. “But really, there are things people can do every day in their own choices and habits to impact the overall issues at hand.”

The trip provides participants with the opportunity to perform a number of tasks while in Nicaragua that also can help the students connect with their communities back at home.

“There’s a wide variety of projects,” Kapan said.

The college partners with AMOS, a humanitarian group in Nicaragua that focuses on providing health services to the locals.

Many of the projects include helping to educate people about health-related issues through stories and classes.

The participants also gain hands-on experience by helping to purify water systems. In some select cases, they can help doctors and nurses with well-child checks.

The hands-on involvement in health services with rural communities is not viewed as a health concern for students. For those with concerns, however, Kapan said that interested participants should check the Centers for Disease Control website for international travel advisories.

“There is nothing unusual at this time” for Nicaragua, she said.

Students who intend to go on the trip must turn in an application to the International Programs office by Nov. 21.

“The way the program works is first-come, first-serves if they qualify to attend,” Kapan said.

The main qualification is whether the student is enrolled at Chemeketa and is in good standing.

The cost is $2,200, which includes everything from the humanities class required for the trip to the expense of food and airplane tickets.

Kapan said the cost was less for students with scholarships or financial aid help.

“We encourage students to work on fund-raising early on. Holidays, Christmas, and birthdays are all coming up,” she said.

“We haven’t had anyone who’s come to us that has signed up and done the application and the deposit and not made it. And if people apply and there’s some sort of extenuating circumstance, we’d be happy to help.”

Jon Kiser, a veteran of the 2014 trip during the previous spring, said money does not have to be an issue.

“Yes, it is a good amount of money. But it is possible to get it paid for,” he said.

Kiser spoke highly of his experience. He said the trip inspired him to consider pursuing international service as well as service here in Salem.

“The trip impacted me by making me more aware of what is happening in the world,” he said.

“We hear about only a few things in America, yet there is so much happening still in other places.”

Kiser encouraged students to consider the trip as a way to expand their awareness of the world around them, as well as for the experience.

“If the smallest interest is popping into your mind, take it seriously and go for it. Get out of your comfort zone,” he said.

“It was truly a blessing to spend time with [the Nicaraguans] and also learn about the history of Nicaragua through their eyes.”

Kapan also encouraged students who were interested in improving life in Salem to consider the trip.

“It’s easy to go through school just focused on ‘I need to get my credits, I need to get my transfer, I need to get a job.’ But it’s not every day that you have an opportunity to do something that will help you for all those purposes and will give you so much more,” she said.

This is “a lifelong opportunity to open up your world even further and see how profoundly that relates to everyday life here in Salem.”

More information can be found by visiting the International Studies Department on the first floor of Bldg. 2 in the Student Life area.

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