Thanks in large part to the efforts of a group of sorority women from Indiana University, children in the village of El Toro, Nicaragua, are now attending school in a bright, modern new building with plenty of school
supplies and teachers.
After raising a collective $40,000 and taking an eight-week preparation class, a group of nine members of IU’s Panhellenic Association and two advisors from Student Life and Learning spent a week in Nicaragua building a school in partnership with the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and buildOn.
“Trek is not a vacation, a cultural tour of poverty, a necessary labor for school construction, or a charity. Trek is an act of solidarity to live, work, and learn together with our international community,” wrote Sydney Twiggs of Phi Mu, a biology major who graduated in May.
The IU Panhellenic Association students who took part in the Circle of Sisterhood Trek lived with host families and got to know the kids who would be educated in the school they were building, working alongside community members and the professional construction team from buildOn. An international nonprofit organization, buildOn connects service groups with communities living in poverty that historically haven’t had an adequate school structure. One of buildOn’s requirements: at least 50 percent of the school’s enrollment must be female.
The 22 sororities comprising IU Panhellenic Association have been involved with Circle of Sisterhood since 2014. The organization unites 160 U.S. sororities to help provide women in developing countries with access to education.
Maddi Lasson of Phi Mu, an elementary and special education major with plans to graduate in 2018, found a home on the other side of the world. “You have shown me what it means to give yourselves to your family and your community more wholly than I ever thought possible,” she wrote.
Jordan Morgan, a journalism major and Alpha Delta Pi who will graduate in 2018, learned a valuable lesson about strength and perseverance. “The people of El Toro were happier than anyone I’ve ever met, and the women were stronger than any women I’ve ever known,” Morgan wrote in her blog about the experience. “I may have discovered limitations within myself, but I learned from those around me how to harness these weaknesses into strength: the strength to persevere.”
Through this experience, Annie Delehanty, of Alpha Sigma Alpha, a tourism hospitality major with plans to graduate in 2019, expanded the bounds of what she thought was possible for herself. “Nicaragua gave me another family, helped me create a lifetime of memories, and allowed me to experience something I might never had. … My comfort zone changed. I hope that it will keep changing.”
Read the blogs of students who participated in the Circle of Sisterhood project: