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Summer service learning experiences create unity

Every four years, the world comes together to celebrate its similarities at the Summer Olympic Games, and this year’s games in Rio brought the world a little closer together. Several McNicholas students had the opportunity to celebrate a similar solidarity and oneness with people in Nicaragua and in our own city.

Nicaragua Immersion Trip
From June 8-16, twelve students and three chaperones from McNicholas High School spent a week at  the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte and other sites in Nicaragua, immersing themselves in the lives of the people Managua, Nicaragua. The goal of the trip was relationship-building. Through encounters with the Nicaraguan people, participants grew to recognize their interdependence, and through the relationships, embraced a mutual sharing of gifts as members of the global community and as children of God’s one human family. 

Maria Ciampone ‘16IMG_0904.JPG
“…the most amazing thing about this trip is the people that I have met…I’ve played hours of soccer with Anthony, played hand-clapping games a hundred times with Fernando and built flower crowns in a schoolyard with Carly and ate too many of Maria and Gerardo’s plantains. The truly magnificent part is that all of these beautiful friendships were made with barely any shared words, thanks to my sub-par Spanish skills. Because of this trip, I’ve learned that the best things in life are also the simplest and that the happiest people are also those who have so much less than me. My experience in Nicaragua is the best experience of my life and that is because God has shown me some amazing things and brought some amazing people to me this past week. I thank Him for allowing this immersion trip to completely change my outlook on life…”

John Norman, trip co-coordinator and McNicholas faculty member
“The Lord is full of surprises! For me, the moments of grace…the sacred moments are too many to name and words would not adequately describe these appearances of the Spirit. But so as to share with you a little of my joy in Nicaragua, I offer these examples of the Lord’s presence this week. Daisy, Antonio and Amy shared their home with us around the lunch table. Such hospitality was the Spirit, alive among us. The people of the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte shared their love with us in conversation, meals, dance, games, and many other gestures of kindness. And the ongoing work of the Cultural Center was expressed to me in the picture of a little boy, learning to play his violin, with the teacher sitting next to him. This captures, for me, the essence of the many educational efforts of the Center. And, finally, the Spirit was “alive” in the hearts of those who traveled to Nicaragua…open and compassionate hearts.”


Mayerson Summer Service-Learning
On Sunday, June 12, the world woke up to the tragedy of murder in Orlando. From June 13-17, six students of McNicholas High School gathered with four other local high schools to give hope and unity to a grieving world.

The Mayerson Service-Learning Program (MSLP) began in 1992 to support the involvement of high school students, their teachers and their schools in strengthening our community through volunteer service. McNicholas students Abby Conaster, Atticus Block, Michael White, Natalie Martinez, Erin Kramer and Kayla Bodner set out each of these days in June to heal the world, find solidarity with those experiencing homelessness, and connect with the poor.

Students learned what it means to be poor and homeless on the streets of Cincinnati and what it takes to feed the poor and homeless of our city in this urban-plunge program. The students also provided the Girls and Boys Club of Cincinnati with a five-day curriculum regarding healthy eating and exercise.

According to Teresa Davis, McNicholas faculty member and chaperone on the experience, the most poignant of activities was when students met two-on-one with a resident of the Men's Shelterhouse on Guest Street.   Two students interviewed 14 residents with questions not focused on how the residents became homeless, but rather on those things that make them who they are.....favorites, preferences, etc.    The resident then interviewed students. 

“The purpose was to give voice to the men who are often invisible and allow some to know their story,” Davis said.  “As the phrase goes...who holds your story.   During the process of was so beautiful.   Reluctant teens nodding, smiling, laughing with residents who were smiling, laughing and telling their story.”

Mayerson_1.jpgThe students and residents had prompts for questions.   The result of interviews was an art piece by students and residents with each art piece representing a person’s story. The artwork will be turned into cards and stationery as a fundraiser for the Shelterhouse.

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