10 Niagara students were joined by two university employees as they traveled to several locations in Panama. In what each participant called an “eye-opening experience,” the group spent time in the Nueva Vida nursing home and Hogar Malambo orphanage in Balboa – and that was just the first day. They were then introduced to Soloy’s indigenous community and culture, before moving on to Volcan, Cerro Punta and, finally, Panama City to tour the canal and other sites.
Sophomore Jakob Rickettson, of Holland, N.Y., said the trip taught him that it’s better to be humble and serve than to try to accrue material possessions in hopes of “becoming somebody.” The finance major spent much of his time helping a family pick crops in Guadalupe.
“God is their hope, salvation and life. It was a privilege and eye-opening experience to witness these people. I went there to serve them, but, in a way, they inspired and served me,” Rickettson said.
“There are good people in this world who work hard but don’t make much money. I think it’s far too often perceived that people in poverty don’t work at all. They work their tails off and it just doesn’t work out for them. You can serve in more ways than donating money. Even just a smile or a conversation in broken Spanish can become a light and the greatest memory for these people.”
Rachel Bailey, a Spanish and liberal arts major from Grand Island, traveled to Panama just 15 days after returning home from Nicaragua, where she helped build a home for an impoverished family in El Sauce.
“Meeting the people and hearing their stories is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” she said. “Both trips reminded me not to take the little things for granted, such as readily available hot water. The people in both countries have inspired me to be thankful for everything I have and to love people wholeheartedly. I truly believe that everyone I meet has something to teach me. I just need to be open to receiving and learning.”
#IamVincent at Niagara University
excerpted from Niagara University News