Monday, 30 November 2015, 9:08 am


students gather at Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua, for a group photo. Photos By Liane AbbeyBy LIANE ABBEY
Staff Writer
Reading week did not serve as a break for the Niagara College Justice Studies students.
They partnered with the non-profit organization Me to We and embarked on a 10-day trip to Nicaragua from Feb. 23 to March 3.
They headed to three cities immersing themselves in the culture, developing leadership skills, and laying the foundation for higher education in the city of Los Campos, Nicaragua.
The cross-continental, humanitarian trip began in Managua, continued to Granada and finished in Los Campos where the group of 22 students “completed the amount of work that three or four groups normally do” according to Me to We Nicaragua Program Co-ordinator Alejandro Guido.
The students participated in constructing the foundation of a Grade 2 classroom.
Jim Norgate, co-ordinator of Police Foundations and the trip co-ordinator, says this project was “overwhelmingly beneficial” to the students’ future career involvement.
“[The trip] raises awareness that everyone has their own story and history.
“The trip helped to show that. The students won’t make as many judgments as they continue in their respective careers.”
Norgate added that the “leadership skills and intrapersonal skills learned were undeniable.”
“One of the most enlightening moments, even though we saw them every day, within the work project, interaction with each other, and the locals, was the environment that was set, that gave the students the opportunity to truly express themselves.
“It was transformational for them individually and them as a group.
“By day four or five you could see them becoming a group of one.”
The students’ commitment began last September with fundraising.
Blake Giroux, 19, a Police Foundations student, says this is just the beginning for him.
“I can say for sure, that this was the best experience of my life and I plan on keeping the energy going.”
Andrew Oosterhoff, 20,of Police Foundations, agrees.
“The trip changed my heart and my life.”
Liane Abbey, reporter for the Niagara News, was part of the Nicaragua trip.

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