Making a Difference in NicaraguaMDC students put service-learning theories into practice at orphanage

Eight MDC students recently traveled to Nicaragua to make a positive impact on the lives of orphans in an impoverished rural village. What they couldn’t predict was how forceful the trip’s impact would be on their own lives.

This MDC faculty-led service immersion program was organized in collaboration with the nonprofit Panorama Service Expeditions and directed by Dr. Arlen García, associate professor of psychology and student life skills, and Prof. Jaime Anzalotta, who specializes in social work and human services and currently is serving as interim dean of students at Wolfson Campus. The students who participated in this program were active officers or members of the Psychology Club and/or the ASPIRA Leadership Organization at North Campus. Students’ pathways of study ranged from psychology and criminal justice to education.

The main target of the service immersion was Hogar Siervas del Divino Rostro, an orphanage and school in El Crucero, Managua, that looks after 20 children and educates 180 more from the area. MDC students, who made it to Nicaragua through their own grassroots fundraising combined with contributions from the College’s Student Life department, brought more than 350 pounds of clothing and school supplies for the children. They applied the lessons in social work and human services acquired at MDC while interacting with the kids in various ways, from playing football to helping them with schoolwork and arts and crafts.

But they also bore witness to the children’s day-to-day struggles, including the lack of running water, frequent power outages and a general scarcity of basic necessities.

“There are no words to describe the emotions I felt on this expedition,” said second-year MDC psychology student Annie Conde. “It changed entirely the way I think of the world around me. I realized how wasteful we are, how much we take for granted in our society.”