A trip of a lifetime

Local students return from trip to Nicaragua


— The Steamboat Springs students who went to Nicaragua to help build potable water systems and indoor stoves are eager to show the public what it was like.

"I want the public to come to the slide show and hopefully learn that this is how most of the world lives and we need to look at them and help them," said Jennifer Cantway, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School.

The slide show is being held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Steamboat Springs High School.

The biggest shock for student Kari Good was the poverty.

"People worked 12 hours a day for $2 a day to support their family," Good said.

But like the other teenagers, Good and Cantway fell in love with their host families and their simple way of life.

"They treated us like their own children," said Good.

Ben Beall Jr. also made the trip and his host family actually had a black and white television.

"We watched a telenovela (soap opera) in Spanish. They were really into this soap opera," Beall said.

"It was called 'Las Mujeres Enganadas,' The Deceived Women," Beall said, as if he truly missed the exciting soap opera.

The teenagers actually lived in "luxury" compared to the actual people they were helping in another small village.

While their temporary homes had dirt floors and wood beds, at least they had an outhouse outside their home and running water just outside.

"The town we were helping had nothing compared to where we lived," said Cantway, whose host family had two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen.

The teenagers made the trip under the auspices of the Steamboat-based Institute of Service Education for Teens (ISET).

Founder and Steamboat Springs resident Debbie Young has been taking teenagers to third world countries for more than a decade as she tries to foster a "cultural understanding and a global sensitivity."

Young has insisted that America's youth and their enormous energy is often wasted or ignored by parents and adults.

On this trip, seven teenagers managed to raise several thousand dollars from donations and fund raisers in Routt County to help pay for their travel expenses.

As for their work in Nicaragua, the Steamboat teenagers learned what physical labor was all about.

"We made stoves out of adobe brick and mud and we worked digging a foundation for a workshop," Good said.

But building a holding tank for water was the biggest hurdle.

"We had to carry sand on our backs up a big hill to the holding tank," Cantway said.

Both Cantway and Good said they hope to make another trip one day, and Cantway actually wants to send delegations to poor countries when she is in college.

"It affected me a lot," Cantway said.

"The whole materialism thing in the United States. It makes me feel a little greedy with all the things we have here."

People interested in seeing the slide show of ISET's latest trip are being asked to donate old shoes at the door.

There will also be two guests from Nicaragua who will take the shoes back home.

The two Nicaraguan guests will also have hammocks and baskets for sale at the slide show made by natives.

The money will be used to fund community projects in Nicaragua.


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