Wisconsin Nicaragua Student Partners (WNSP), a student organization at the Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) in Stevens Point, WI kicked off the new school year with Rachel & Rachel, 2014/2015 co-presidents, hosting a colorful booth at the Project Welcome event. The event helps new and returning students scope out groups to get involved with during the upcoming school year. The youth group meets regularly to come up with fun and exciting ways to help out Nicaraguans while sharing/learning about each other’s cultures and sparking long lasting international friendships. Past and upcoming community service projects include packaging at the warehouse, participating in the bike-hike, and gathering school supplies to send to Nicaragua. The Student Partners is a great way for students at SPASH to get involved in their own community and make an impact across the globe!
Youth involvement gets students thinking about their communities and beyond, in some cases incorporating "international" thinking as a part of their life. Encouraging the next generation of leaders to think and address local as well as global issues across neighborhoods and nations is in everyone's best interest.
In addition to activities throughout the school year, there will also be a Youth Exchange this summer, June 15 - 23, 2015 for Wisconsin students to travel to Nicaragua. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and information.
“I certainly learned a lot on this trip not only about another country's culture but also the way people can act toward one another with so much kindness when they do not even know someone. This trip has without a doubt changed how I look at life. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, I will never forget it.” Erin, 2010 Youth Exchange
An ongoing youth project has been the collection of school supplies and backpacks for children and teachers in Nicaragua. It’s a successful project in part because students of any age understand the need and value of having basic supplies to complete their studies.
Mirna, who assists with the distribution of the school supplies, sent these photos for donors to further understand how important their contributions are. She commented, “Note the one kid barefoot, it kind of broke my heart and seeing the girls wearing flip flops instead of shoes. These are really poor families that have no money for a pair of shoes neither for a back pack so our donation was greatly appreciated. Thanks once again Sarah and Kaylee for your work with this project and for your enthusiasm to keep it going!” (Sarah and Kaylee spend endless hours collecting supplies for the backpacks and putting them together)
Collecting school supplies is a big job, not only are the high school students participating, but also civic and community groups, churches, and a host of other people finding out about the project and donating funds to buy supplies in Nicaragua or packaging supplies to be shipped, both methods work and are very much needed.
It's really helpful to have people like Lilliam, (from the Youth Ambassadors Project) on the other end helping with the distribution and determining where items are needed most.
We often receive notes back from the students who receive backpacks, and this one written to Kaylee is my favorite…..
Hello Kaylee! My name is Jorge and I am twelve, am in six grade of elementary school.
I live in Managua, Nicaragua and I just received your gift. I would like to tell you that I am surprised that persons like you exists in this world, persons with a big heart like yours who gives to those who don’t know but just know that even the smallest thing will put a smile on children’s face.
I cannot send anything for you because I don’t have any money but I can promise you that I will use everything you sent so that may be one day with luck I can be a little like you.
God bless you Kaylee and your parents for the wonderful work they have done with you. May God guide your steps to the good path just like you’ve been doing until now. Thank you!
In summary, a heartfelt thank you to all who continue to support the Youth Projects which really helps the Youth in the U.S. have a better understanding of ways we can reach out to others, and seeing how important and valuable education is to those with fewer opportunities.
This past month the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Student Partners braved the cold and helped to raise awareness about the Wisconsin and Nicaragua Partnership by joining in the Holiday Parade. The Student Partners and W/NP volunteers put together a colorful and festive float for the annual parade through downtown Stevens Point. Participating in community events such as the parade, help others to know what organizations exist and that there are many volunteer opportunities available in the area.
The highlight of the float this year was Evelyn , from Jinotega Nicaragua, as she bravely sported the traditional Nicaraguan dance dress (with many layers underneath!) It was a unique experience for Evelyn, coming from a warm climate, and learning what “frozen fingers” are like. She was a trooper and we appreciated Evelyn's willingness to hold out, despite the cold weather.
Later in the week, Evelyn met with Mr. Mike Devine, Principal at the Stevens Point Area Senior High School. They compared the differences of their public schools as well as the similarities students have no matter their location in the world. During Evelyn’s time in the classroom with students, she shared about the importance of not only learning about other countries, but incorporating some type of international experience into their education. Evelyn used herself as an example; being an active member of her own community in Nicaragua, she had the desire to expand her knowledge about community engagement, emergency preparedness, and volunteer programing. She discovered, applied and was accepted to the Partners of the Americas Professional Fellows program, thus how she was able to be there with the students sharing this time along with many other experiences in both Washington DC and in Wisconsin.
Traveling to another country and sharing time with people is a valuable and unique experience, one we hope more students who are able to interact with visitors from Nicaragua will take advantage of.
Stevens Point High School student Rachey Ley implemented the Literacy for Little Ones reading program at five hospitals in Wisconsin and Minnesota as a way to encourage parents to read to their newborns. "Every baby born at the hospital receives the book package, which includes a children’s book and a letter that I wrote explaining why it's so important to start reading at a young age" says Ley.
Velez Paiz Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua is the next location to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. http://media.mwcradio.com/podcasts/bryan-and-nikki-podcast/002/bryan-and-nikki-podcast-002.mp3
“Through Literacy for Little Ones, I have learned that no matter what my age, the best way I can make a positivedifference in my community is by volunteering. I have been truly inspired by the number of youth, teens, and adults throughout North Central Wisconsin who have generously given their time or made donations to allow this project togrow and expand. It has made me realize that volunteerism is realizing how fortunate I am and trying to give back what others have done for me.” Rachel Ley http://www.rivernewsonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=9&SubSectionID=78&ArticleID=53089
Firsthand experience is one of the best ways to learn about something new. The SPASH (Stevens Point Area Senior High School) Wisconsin/Nicaragua Student Partners group did a wonderful job coordinating another Youth Exchange for two students from Nicaragua to come and share time with the students and people from Wisconsin. Special thanks to all who participated and helped make their experience possible and also very meaningful.
Highlights included the Portage County Cultural Festival, presentations for the Spanish classes at SPASH and P.J.'s, meeting with Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson, bowling at Skipp's, ice cream at Belt's, disc golfing, a day in Marshfield with friends, bonfire at the Drake's, attending the Stevens Point Noon Rotary meeting, helping at the Wis/Nic Partners warehouse packing day, social gathering at Rookie's, Dairy State Cheese including their treating the kids to ice cream and of course the finale farewell at the Wooden Chair. Stevens Point provided a warm welcome for our Nicaraguan friends and we look forward to future exchanges that compliment international perspectives.
The Youth Ambassadors for the Americas program between Wisconsin and Nicaragua began in 2007 by bringing outstanding, public high school students from Nicaragua to the U.S. for a two week cultural and educational exchange. Although funding for program has ceased three years ago, creative planning and perseverance have allowed the exchanges to continue.
Thank you for your support of the youth programs, visiting each other’s countries not only provides new knowledge and experience for participants, but also prepares them for a lifetime of leadership and community service.
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