A Helping Hand in a Faraway Land

By Justin Quinn
Published: April 2010

Since 1988, the Newton community has held a strong connection to San Juan del Sur, a town on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. Strengthening the bond, dedicated churches, schools, and volunteer groups have traveled from Newton to help out the town by performing beneficial community service projects for the community.

Newton South has a unique connection of its own with San Juan Del Sur, sending eight students and two teachers every year to volunteer and immerse themselves in the unique culture since the early 2000s.  This year, I am excited to be a part of that program.

After a plane ticket controversy, our trip was postponed from February vacation to April vacation, but as our plane takes off today, the group and I are as excited as ever to arrive in Nicaragua and begin our work.

While in San Juan del Sur, the girls, the boys, and the teachers will be staying with three separate host families, most of whom have hosted students before and appreciate the connection Newton has with their city. Almost every day, our group will work on a community service project to help the community. Although we will not know exactly what our projects entail until we arrive, past projects include painting a school, teaching English classes, running a mobile library, and digging a hole for the foundation of a school.

In addition to our daily project, we will be distributing school materials to the schools in the area.  To raise money for the supplies, we organized a series of bake sales at South over the past few months, and put donation boxes in the house offices for students and faculty to give any materials they had. Teachers Eugene Stein and Jessica Tortola, who will accompany us on the trip, organized and collected supplies from their own students as well.

With those donations and the money we raised, we each filled bags with pencils, paper, calculators, and various other school supplies that we will carry with us to Nicaragua in addition to our own luggage.

The connection between Newton and San Juan Del Sur is valuable not only to the people benefiting from the community service, but to the people performing it as well. Everyone involvedin this program can all learn so much from each other; our sister city program helps contribute to this global awareness. I cannot wait to land in Nicaragua and put our fundraising and preparation to good use.

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