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George Larivee

Eye-Opening Experiences on CA Service Trips to Nicaragua and South Dakota


George Larivee CO N CO R D AC A D EM Y M AG A ZIN E FA LL 2016

Bottom: Students bought cans of spray paint at the Cheyenne River Youth Project gift shop to add their own artwork to a graffiti art park in Eagle Butte, S.D.

V The same month, on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Eagle Butte, S.D., 10 CA

Matthew Kaufman ’18

Matthew Kaufman ’18

Top: A group from CA en route to teach in a primary school in the mountains near La Laguna, Nicaragua

his June, seven students accompanied mathematics teachers George Larivee and Jessica Kuh on a cultural exchange with host families in Nicaragua, where they were welcomed warmly into homes and schools. The group spent one week with a family in the city of Estelí, and another with several families in the small, northern mountain village of La Laguna. Most mornings, they walked to neighboring villages to give math lessons in primary schools. The CA students did all of the teaching — in Spanish. “They did a wonderful job of teaching and interacting with our hosts,” said Larivee, who has run the trip almost every year since 2009. “We were lucky this year to have several students on the trip who were native Spanish speakers, which made bonding with the families and school children very easy.” Ceili Lemus ’19 said, “Nicaragua preserves a lot of beautiful culture that I had found hard to stay in touch with during my time in the States and at CA, but visiting again not only reminded me of my own roots, it also gave me a chance to make relationships with people I will never forget.” Adrian Balvuena ’19 found the experience opened his mind to the possibility of someday teaching in less privileged areas. “The people, the culture, and their traditions gave me a sliver of happiness I’ll always carry in my heart,” he said.

students joined science teacher Amy Kumpel and mathematics teacher Cory Chapman P’19 to help renovate a house purchased by The Mustard Seed, a local organization that serves the alcoholic homeless population. They swung hammers and wielded paintbrushes to retrofit the kitchen so that it could be used as a cooking facility for a soup kitchen. Students and faculty also visited Ginny Bonavia Webb ’99, whose mother-inlaw, a local pastor, works with The Mustard Seed. Staying in a volunteer house on the reservation, the group connected with a repeat

volunteer who proved a wealth of information about Lakota culture and also helped arrange for them to join locals for a traditional sweat lodge followed by a family meal. “It wasn’t just a fun experience but a very cultural one,” said Cole Chapman ’19. “It was almost like a prayer for them, and it was cool that they invited us into that.” Jane Lindstrom ’17 felt she learned a lot about Lakota culture and the Eagle Butte community. “I loved meeting locals, working on the house, and going to the sweat lodge,” she said. Another highlight? The landscape. “Being from New England, we don’t get to see such wide-open spaces very often, and it was breathtaking,” she said. “We went outside to look at the stars every night, because the sky was just so incredibly huge.”


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10/21/16 7:35 AM

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