Youth was not an obstacle for three young Turlockers trying to make a difference in the world.
Allison Backland, 21, Rosalind Kingsley-Hurst, 18, and Dustin Speckman, 19, from the First United Methodist Church traveled to Managua, Nicaragua in July to help build an elementary school from the ground up.
For 10 days, the Turlockers assisted in the construction of the school by laying bricks, mixing cement, and helping to dig a 24 foot latrine — all through Seeds of Learning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education opportunities in rural Latin America.
“It was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done in my life,” said Kingsley-Hurst.
Each year, Seeds of Learning sends groups of volunteers to Central America. These volunteers spend between 7 and 12 days working with communities in Nicaragua or El Salvador. While there, volunteers partner with communities, form relationships, build bridges and explore each others' cultures.
“I’ve been out of the country a couple of times but this was a different experience that I took so much out of,” said Backland. “In Managua, we got to know about the community and we learned the day-to-day struggles of these individuals.”
For Speckman, traveling to a third world country opened his eyes to a different culture.
“It was my first time traveling outside the country,” said Speckman. “I wasn’t aware of the issues that were going on in the other part of the world. It made me gain a sense of appreciation of what I have at home that I once took for granted.”
Since its inception in 1991, Seeds of Learning has constructed or remodeled 152 classrooms in 55 communities.
“It was a fun experience for me because I didn’t speak Spanish at all and I was able to be exposed to their culture and language,” said Kingsley-Hurst. “It was really fun trying to communicate our ideas without understanding each other.”
For Backland, the relationships she built in Managua were the highlight of her mission trip.
“Aside from helping construct the school, we had a chance to interact with the kids in the community,” said Backland. “It was refreshing to see the smile on their faces over the simplest things that we take for granted. The relationships I built made my trip worthwhile.”