Many college students plan on spending their spring break soaking up the sun on a beach; however, 11 Hamilton students, accompanied by a faculty advisor, plan on volunteering on an organic coffee farm in Nicaragua. The trip is part of Hamilton’s Alternative Spring Break program, a student-run volunteer organization. The coffee farms they will visit—Finca Esperanza Verde or Green Hope Farm—play a large role in the community and economy of San Ramon, Nicaragua. The objective of the trip is to help the community of San Ramon and learn about its culture and environment.
Emily Rubinstein ’16 proposed the idea to Amy James, director of Outreach and Orientation, immediately upon returning for the 2013-14 academic year. Rubinstein said the inspiration for the trip came from a high school friend who traveled to the Dominican Republic. After hearing about that friend’s life-changing experience, Rubinstein decided to explore ways in which she could volunteer in another country and make a difference for people not as fortunate.
In addition to student leaders Rubinstein and Maggie Doolin ’14, student participants are Bryan Ferguson ’17, Elisa MacColl `16, Alice Henry ’14, Tzu Hsiang (Thomson) Tai ’17, Naomi Woolfenden ’16, Mary Margaret Allen’17, Njideka Ofoleta ’16 and Hannah Kolodner’14. Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Luisa Briones is accompanying the group.
Rubinstein outlined several of the activities the Hamilton group will take on, including “trail maintenance, gardening, working in a butterfly conservatory, and helping in a school. The living situation will be communal,” she said, “and we will be expected to help in the kitchen. This is a great opportunity not only to help out the community there, but for us to learn about the culture and environment of Nicaragua.”
Rubinstein and Doolin brainstormed with Amy James several times and contacted other schools while planning the trip. About 30 students applied for the Alternative Spring Break opportunity. James, Rubinstein and Doolin reviewed the applications, seeking people with local or international volunteer experience. The Hamilton students who were selected are eagerly awaiting the beginning of their spring break and the chance to make a difference in the world.