“While I publish research articles and counseling books, there is no substitute for going on-site to remote, distant, lands and engaging with people from a variety of cultures. My own experiences in remote South Africa, the Outback of Australia, in Asia and other locales, is the people I have met have taught me far more than any graduate program could ever hope to teach me. Direct immersion in a diverse culture is the best education a student or professor can ever hope to get. For the next 50 years of my life, my primary purpose will be to go abroad on an annual basis to volunteer in targeted sections of the globe. In all honesty, I frequently question how helpful I have been to the people I have worked with. But there is no question that the amazing, resilient children, adolescents, and adults have transformed my life. Perhaps this transformation helps me be a better professor, researcher, counselor, and person.”
Six members of NU’s Bienvenidos Spanish Language Club spent a good part of their 2015 Christmas vacation serving the poor. One of the club members, Briana Neale, told Bienvenidos at a meeting about a high school trip she had taken to Nicaragua to build a house for a family that didn't have one. Kelly Fitzpatrick quickly organized a similar service trip to Nicaragua. According to Kelly, “The whole experience turned out to be an overwhelming success that certainly touched all of our hearts. We have already started talking about returning next year-hopefully with enough people to build two or three houses!” Assisted by Rev. Vince O’Malley, C.M., and Dr. Abigail Levin from the Department of Philosophy, the group worked continuously over their break to realize this project, which was sped up by the students’ ability to communicate with the local people. “Because we could speak Spanish, we actually saw the house completed,” said Rachel Bailey.
According to Dr. Abigail Levin, who also joined the trip: “I don't speak a word of Spanish, nor did I know the students well. I hesitated a bit, because of these things, and because I'd never chaperoned students abroad before, but I was very interested in the trip, eager to be a part of such a great project, and curious about pushing my own comfort zone. The trip was really extraordinary. The students were so fun and easy to be with (the term 'chaperone' was really a misnomer here!) and it was so moving to be able to make a lasting impact on people's lives in only a week. I would do this again in a heartbeat!”