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Maeve's Experience in Nicaragua

Maeve KirbyAbout the Program: My GO Your Own Way (GYOW) program was to Managua, Nicaragua.  During my two weeks there I:

  • Toured different United Methodist congregations that were implementing Stop Hunger Now, an organization that sends individually wrapped meals of protein rich beans and rice around the world.
  • Visited with Project Chacocente in the rural countryside of Masaya. Their mission is to take families living in heaping piles of trash in the numerous dumps throughout the country and relocated them in the countryside. The family is then enrolled in a five year program which affords an education to both the adults and the children, while simultaneously providing them with materials to build their own house, cook nutritious meals, and learn numerous agricultural skills.
  • Constructed a sidewalk connecting the primary school with the newly built secondary school.  The ministry of education would not allow the school to be opened without the construction of the connecting sidewalk, believing that safe transportation between buildings regardless of weather conditions to be of utmost importance.


  • Seeing the poverty of Nicaragua, clean water was not always readily available to everyone.
  • Quickly had to learn the difference between purified and filtered water and which was safest for me to drink.
  • Reverse culture shock, the transition between seeing the poverty stricken towns of Nicaragua and the malls, five star restaurants, and overwhelming dissatisfaction among our society was uncomfortable and deeply saddening. 

After: My experience in Nicaragua has left me more humble and appreciative. I appreciate the GO Your Own Way option because it allows students to fully immerse themselves into one of their passions in a global setting. I truly believe a cross-cultural experience is something that everyone should have at least once in their life, if not more. The GO Program was certainly something I wanted to do during my college career and I found comfort in the fact that the requirement would prevent me from, in a sense, chickening out or allowing the chaos of the semester to overshadow the experiences that were awaiting me abroad.  Exploring these new dimensions within myself has encouraged me to declare an International Studies and Religion double major.

Advice for future GYOW students: My advice for future students who will be planning their GO trip is to take a chance and go somewhere you never thought you'd find yourself.  Nicaragua never crossed my mind as a possible destination until my church chose it as the location of our mission trip. Today, I consider it another home away from home. We all have those places in the world where we desperately want to go, like Rome, Greece, etc. But what about those other places that maybe never even crossed your mind before?  Don't throw them by the wayside without giving it a second thought, give it a chance. You just might be really surprised, and grateful, for what that faraway place has in store for you one day down the road.

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