L-R: Kathryn Tyykila, Madison Yilek, Payton Yilek, Megan Wassom, Alyssa Donnelly, Pedro (local), Abigail Ross, Emma Hartz, (local), Jodi Tish, Mark Shea, Aubrey Anderson, Lindsay Blackford, Ashley Farmer-Hanson

L-R: Kathryn Tyykila, Madison Yilek, Payton Yilek, Megan Wassom, Alyssa Donnelly, Pedro (local), Abigail Ross, Emma Hartz, (local), Jodi Tish, Mark Shea, Aubrey Anderson, Lindsay Blackford, Ashley Farmer-Hanson

April 16, 2018

Ten Buena Vista University students participated in an Alternative Week of Off-site Learning trip during spring break, enabling them to volunteer their time and service with a focus on sustainable social and economic development in Los Fierros, Nicaragua.

The BVU participants served with the Panorama Service Expedition, an organization that promotes sustainable social and economic development projects. Throughout the week, the group immersed themselves in the area’s culture, serving on a farm alongside locals helping prepare grounds for planting coffee trees, painting a civilian’s home, and playing with children in the community.

Alyssa Donnelly, a junior strategic public relations major from Council Bluffs and one of the student site leaders, said interacting with the people of Los Fierros was a trip highlight.      

“It was a passionate, driven community,” said Donnelly. “The people worked together in any circumstance, and something that I was absolutely stunned by was the way they created relationships with one another. The community of people doesn’t judge or focus on the big things; instead, they focus on the smaller things and what is important to them.”

Others students who participated in the social and economic development AWOL trip were Kathryn Tyykila, a junior elementary education major from Canby, Minn.; Aubrey Anderson, a junior communication studies from Worthington, Minn.; Abby Ross, a senior social work and psychology double major from Council Bluffs; Megan Wassom, a junior biomedical Sciences major from Royal; Lindsay Blackford, a senior psychology and Spanish double major from Council Bluffs; Madison Yilek, a junior art and graphic design double major from Belle Plaine; Emma Hartz, a senior business major from Grinnell; Jodi Tish, a senior accounting and business double major from Grinnell; and Payton Yilek; a junior business and accounting double major from Belle Plaine. 

Advisors for the experience were Ashley Farmer-Hanson, assistant dean for student life and director of civic engagement at BVU; and Mark Shea, director of student success and assistant dean of student affairs.