SU CASA is a national award-winning service-learning course and mission trip taught and led by former University Chaplain Mark Radecke, D.Min. Participants travel to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for two weeks over winter break and earn two semester hours of academic credit while serving at mission sites including congregations, clinics, refugee and immigrant communities, hospitals and an orphanage on Isla Ometepe (a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua).
The adventure was conceived by Radecke, D.Min, who since 1999, has helped lead 15 groups totaling 361 members of the Susquehanna community. They have delivered more than $755,000 in materials and contributed more than 17,400 hours of volunteer service.
Location: Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Dates: Dec. 29, 2013 - Jan. 12, 2014
Prerequisite: Readings as assigned by the program coordinator
Academic credit: Two semester hours, this program and accompanying course satisfy the GO requirement
Majors of interest: Open to all majors.
Application: Online application available on MySU.
Financial Aid: Need-based financial aid may be available for students satisfying the GO requirement
Program Director: Mark Wm. Radecke, D.Min.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Students Say
What does “SU CASA” mean?
CASA is an acronym meaning “Central America Service Adventure,” but in Spanish, “su casa” means "his/her/their house." As our Central American friends open their homes and churches to us, we experience the warm hospitality of their houses and the house of the Lord.
Where are the service sites?
- Iglesia Luterana Sola Fe (Faith Alone Lutheran Church), San Sebastian, Costa Rica
- Centro Infantil Cristiano Nicaragüense (Nicaraguan Christian Orphanage), Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua
- Clinics and hospitals in Pavas and Carpio, Costa Rica; and Moyogalpa, Altagracia and Balgüe on Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua
What is the history of SU CASA?
Since SU CASA's start in 1999, 15 teams totaling more than 361 members of the Susquehanna University community have spent two weeks living, working, worshipping, playing and praying with members of local communities. They have delivered a combined total of more than $755,000 in materials and cash gifts and have contributed over 17,400 hours of volunteer service.
How has SU CASA been recognized?
In 2008, SU CASA received two awards from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the preeminent national organization for student affairs in higher education. The first is the International Best Practice Award for Student Philanthropy, which recognizes internationally based programming sponsored by higher education institutions. The second is the Bronze Award for Excellence, which identifies SU CASA as one of the top three programs in the country in the category of Careers, Academic Support, Service Learning and Community Service.
What previous participants are saying:
"I loved taking the children of Pavas to the amusement park. It totally made me smile and helped shape my entire trip. I also realized how much Americans have, how fortunate I am and how much I can give up and give back to people who don't have as much as myself. God is everywhere…especially in Central America: just look at the mountains, the sky, the green grass, and above all, the children…God PROVIDES!"
"The Central America service-learning trip has not only left me with irreplaceable experiences, lasting friendships and unimaginable knowledge, but it has given me a chance to mature mentally and spiritually in the presence of God and His picturesque surroundings."
"Tuesday afternoon during a grueling hike through the vegetation of Nicaragua, my group and I encountered a humble home surrounded by an assortment of grazing farm animals. While lounging on his front porch, a stranger, seeing us begin to pass his home, welcomed us onto his property. As I relaxed on one of his wooden rocking chairs, I could not help feeling puzzled about the man's caring, but uncommon deed toward strangers. At night during the same day as I was logging in my journal, I surprisingly noticed the particular gospel passage staring right at me. The phrase "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" jumped immediately out of the page, and I soon realized that the humble stranger just performed one of Jesus' spiritual messages of God."
"My advice for the students going next year would be to look for the images of Jesus, only I challenge them to look beyond the statues and paintings, and look for the images of Jesus in the people, the children, the pastors, the wives, the parents, everyone because it's there. It may take a bit of searching and it may take some time before you realize that Jesus is inside every single one of the people you meet and that these are the images of Jesus that really matter."