Westerly 8th Graders Build Sustainable Garden in Nicaragua

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This global service project taught the eight grade students lessons that could not be learned in the classroom. They also had a chance to practice their Spanish.

This global service project taught the eight grade students lessons that could not be learned in the classroom. They also had a chance to practice their Spanish.

Ten eighth graders from Westerly school traveled over 3,000 miles last week to Nicaragua to build a sustainable learning garden at a school in a rural farming community near Villa El Carmen. The often forgotten community has felt the impact of a tumultuous history coupled with an increasingly competitive global market, leaving them starved of resources. 

The students used time in their math and science classes to budget, measure, research and plan the building of raised garden beds to grow fruits and vegetables for the 60-80 kids at “San Diego School”. Director of Student Affairs, David Perram organized the trip and constructed the project outline with the help of locals residing in the area. This project was truly built upon the collective voices of the community being served and the students at Westerly.

“I wanted the students to understand the value of sustainable service along with the importance of reaching out to the community aimed to serve to ensure the service is wanted and needed”, states Perram.

Hearing directly from teachers and residents of the area helped gain a better perspective on implementing a project with maximum impact. The project gained enough attention that two United States Peace Corp Volunteers and the local law enforcement came to help the dedicated teens.

Eighth grader Joshua Smith was moved by the experience of working with the community “it was especially rewarding knowing that our project was wanted and appreciated by the students and teachers, it reinforces I made a positive impact”.

Students involved in the project had an opportunity to practice their Spanish language, understand new cultures while sharing their own, and collaborate directly with the community they were aiming to serve.

“It was a great experience in an unfamiliar place. This trip made me realize that my age, language, and other differences can’t stop me from making a difference in the world”, stated trip participant Christina Marsh.

This trip was the second of its kinds, as last year’s 8th grade class created a mural at a nearby school. Westerly aims to continue this trip moving forward. Students are reaping the benefits of a global service project. The lessons learned through this real-world experience just simply can’t be taught in a classroom.

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