For the school-age children living on Lake Nicaragua’s hundreds of picturesque islands, going to school in the port city of Granada is no easy feat. Born into impoverished families who watch over island summer homes, children must board canoes riddled with holes, scooping out water with buckets as they paddle along.
The struggles of Nicaraguan children and the challenges faced by schools in that country made a profound impact on the six College of the Canyons students and Santa Clarita Valley International Program (SCVIP) representatives who recently returned from an eight-day trip to Nicaragua for its 2016 Global Collaboration Project.
In recognition of the team’s humanitarian efforts, the Santa Clarita City Council honored the group at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
The team donated hundreds of books, school supplies, and instructional aides such as maps and white boards, to four elementary schools in Granada, Nicaragua, including a school for at-risk girls.
“We are excited to honor the representatives that traveled to Nicaragua as part of the Literacy Local to Global Collaborative Project at Tuesday’s City Council meeting,” said Ken Striplin, City of Santa Clarita City Manager. “While developing international goodwill, our representatives also provided books and school supplies to a local school and led reading lessons to children. It’s great to see students and residents represent Santa Clarita in such a meaningful way.”
The students — Angela De Santiago, Fernanda Jaramillo, Gabriela Linares, Gerardo Reyes, Andrew Rodriguez, and Kelly Sierra — braved extreme summer temperatures to gather and deliver donations.
Originally intending to donate supplies to Miravalle — a SCVIP sister school — the students were able to collect enough donations to support three additional school sites.
“I’m very proud of the amazing students and how they came together to make this trip successful,” said Claudia Acosta, chair of the COC modern languages department and SCVIP board member. “They all touched the hearts of other people.”
The students learned about global connections, real problems of the 21st century, poverty, education challenges in third world countries, ecology and conservation efforts, added Acosta. “This trip helped them understand their role as global citizens and local ambassadors representing COC and Santa Clarita.”
Along with Acosta, the students were accompanied by SCVIP board members Elena Galvez, Art Moore, and Dr. João Junqueira, a music and language teacher who conducted music research.
The students also became friends with other volunteers from other countries, formed partnerships, visited the U.S. Embassy, and met with the former Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños Geyer and leading scientist Dr. Jaime Incer Barquero.
“I foresee the COC Global Collaborative Project growing exponentially larger in the near future with the support of the amazing faculty and administrators at COC,” said Andrew Rodriguez, COC student and member of the college’s Associated Student Government (ASG). “With the aid of the school, we were able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time, which shows through our documented efforts.”
As a local non-profit organization, SCVIP focuses on developing and promoting strategic alliances and goodwill around the world between Santa Clarita and international cities. The Global Collaborative Project is a joint effort by COC and SCVIP to provide opportunities for students to implement student projects abroad.
The COC students who participated in this year’s Global Collaboration Project belong to various college organizations and clubs, such as ASG, Knowledge Enlightenment & Endurance Club, Association of Students United for the Language, Sigma Delta Mu, Military Club, and the Association of Latin American Students.
For more information about the COC Global Collaboration Project, visit the project’s Facebook