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Bridge Scholar finds passion with a hammer in one hand and her heart in the other | Nourish International

September 20, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Cornell, Nourish Office, Student Spotlight, Summer Projects, UPenn | By

Meet Christina Gutierrez, Nourish student from Cornell University and 2013 Bridge Scholar recipient, an amazing leader who fully embodies the values and mission of Nourish International.  Christina tells it best!

My name is Christina Gutierrez, a sophomore at Cornell University studying History with minors in Latin American studies and Inequality studies and I love to travel and combine my love for  cultures with my passion for international development.

We asked Christina, “Why Nourish”?

I became involved in Nourish almost immediately upon my arrival at Cornell because I thought that the goals and values behind Nourish International fit very closely to my own. I became a SAB (Student Advisory Board) student representative during my freshman year and now am the IP (International Projects) director for my chapter.

Finding an organization that truly empowers students to make meaningful changes in the world is just amazing. I have always had a passion for helping others and would really like to travel the world, meshing these two desires together seemed difficult until I found Nourish. Nourish makes me feel as if I have the ability to change the world; right now, as a student.

What project did you go on this past summer and why did you decide to participate?

I went on the Cornell-UPenn project in Managua, Nicaragua to partner with a grassroots non-profit ATRAVES. We worked in the small barrio of Camilo Ortega specifically within Barrio San William Galeano. Our project had three tiers; computer literacy, agriculture and health. I loved the project and really wanted to participate. I would not have been able to participate due to lack of travel funds this summer had it not been for the generosity and faith that NINO (Nourish International National Office)had in me. I was awarded a Bridge Scholarship, a competitive scholarship program that Nourish National Office offers to students wanting to volunteer abroad.

What did your project team achieve?

We taught dozens of classes in Nutrition, Environmental Education, Computer Literacy, Health and Sex Education. We planted hundreds of seedlings and created three new garden beds. The health group saw dozens of patients. We also collectively helped to complete the first ever electrical system in Camilo in the health center.

 What did you learn from this experience ?

This experience  helped me find my passion. I can make an impact doing what I love to do. It was an amazing feeling working and living in the community and I cannot wait to do it all over again, hopefully for the rest of my life!

I also learned how to chisel into a concrete wall with a hammer and pike, how to plant effectively, how to hoe and clear idle land, how to climb a volcano, how to bucket flush, how to dig huge holes, how to wash clothes on a pila, how to bargain with everyone, and how to enjoy all the little things.

What I learned from this trip cannot be measured, but I hope I will carry it with me forever and use my experiences to help me fulfill my dreams.

How do you hope your involvement in the Project will impact the area?

I hope that the electrical system we helped install will carry the Casa de Salud on its way to becoming a state recognized health clinic. I hope (most) of the seedlings we planted will survive and help provide more fresh produce to the community. I hope that the areas we cleared will be used to grow necessary plants and food for members of the community. I hope that the mosaics we helped the children make will make them feel as if the nursery is their’s as well. I hope the students took away a lot of valuable information from the lessons we taught; that they remember how to use Google docs, to type with both hands, that avocado is a fruit not a vegetable, that soil erosion can be treated with less deforestation, and that they are just kids. Most of all, I hope that they remember me and the whole team with a smile.

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