The biggest contingent of students on this Enrichment Voyage hailed from Toronto, Canada where they all attend Humber College. For the fourth straight year, Mary Lendway, program coordinator for travel and tourism management, spearheaded Study @ Sea, accompanied by colleagues Kristan Lingard and Sarah Wilkinson and 46 students.
The travel and tourism students were required to take a series of mandatory lectures, present pre-port lectures, and produce a blog and video, while the fitness students planned and executed fitness classes in the morning and workshops for the shipboard community such as “Tired of Fad Diets?”
In port, the group went on service visits to local communities to look at the social determinants of health, factors like socioeconomic status and whether people live in urban or rural settings. “We saw children with infections, all kinds of differing things because of the way they live,” Lingard, coordinator for the fitness and health promotion program, said. “And of course it motivated us to promote health within the shipboard community.”
In Nicaragua, they visited Monty’s Surf Camp, which is jointly owned by a Canadian and a local Nicaraguan. The premise of the organization is to improve rural areas, those oft-forgotten communities neglected by the government. Monty’s has done a plethora of humanitarian work, including opening a new school, a medical clinic and a community center, made out of shipping containers. The duo is building a hotel to teach a vocational school about hospitality and tourism in an effort to create jobs and bring people and money into the area. Lingard recalled a conversation with co-founder Jerry. “He said, ‘we’re not a poor country. We’re an impoverished country.’ It’s up to us to ‘serve’—they don’t want people to ‘help’ because that implies that they’re poor.”
The group also visited Chinandega, a piece of land between a sewage plant, dump and cemetery. The children go through the dump to find bottles or anything that will earn them a bit of money. The government gave the land to the community because no one else wanted it. Four thousand people live in Chinandega, and there’s a feeding station where Humber students sponsored and served a hot meal.
Nicaragua has free health care for everyone, but no money to support it so supplies and medication may be minimal or non-existent. “It’s tiered—if you have more money, you can get more care,” Lingard explained. “People with steady jobs have access to better health care.”
“What we visually noticed were skin infections, eye infections, injuries that weren’t treated, ascites—fluid accumulation from nutrient deficiencies—and teenage pregnancy.”
The Humber group also distributed supplies that were sent to them by Global Grins, a program that ships toothbrushes for free to any traveler visiting a developing country.
The group also was accompanied by the eight members of the Exchange, an a capella ensemble performing the on-board entertainment throughout the voyage, who sang to the communities.
All in all, it was a rewarding, life-changing experience that will stick with them—-both the locals impacted and the students touched by their encounters—-for years to come.
All images provided by Kristan Lingard. For more photos from the Humber students’ projects, visit the Enrichment Voyages Facebook page.