Ed.D. Student Volunteers in Nicaragua

Rita Hunter is a doctor of education (Ed.D.) student at Union Institute & University with a concentration in higher education. She teaches part-time at Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario in the criminology department and she serves as a full-time probation and parole officer.

Rita Hunter working with students in Nicaragua.

Rita Hunter working with students in Nicaragua.

In the quest to become the best teacher possible, Rita Hunter decided to volunteer with 14 other fellow Canadians on a service mission to Nicaragua through Seeds of Learning, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational opportunities in rural Latin America.

“As a professor and an Ed.D. student, I am eager to engage my students in real world curriculum. In my final year of the Ed.D. program at Union I will be taking Education and Sustainability and I thought the chance to interact in a different culture would enhance my knowledge of collaboration and community,” said Hunter.

Education Sustainability is defined as the education and actions required by educators and their institutions to educate, advocate, and provide leadership for integrated solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development to the United Nations, 1987.)

“We spoke no Spanish and they spoke no English,” said Hunter. “Yet they accepted us. Even though we didn’t speak the same language we quickly learned to work together building a community center. We wore rubber boots and masks to work with cement. The residents worked in flip flops. Our cultural divide didn’t matter at all. We worked as a team.”

The group traveled to an isolated, poverty-stricken village without water and limited electricity.

“There are no computers or cell phones and few games. But the children use their creativity to learn and play,” said Hunter. “The children were thankful for the time we spent with them.”

This unique firsthand experience will allow Hunter to engage students more effectively and assist in her goal to be the best teacher she can be.

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Canadian volunteers introduce themselves on the first day and hand out school supplies to the Nicaraguan children.

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Girls of the Nicaraguan village welcome the volunteer group by dancing in traditional cultural dress.

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Volunteers dig trenches in the community center.

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Water is pumped from a well.

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Canadian volunteers and Nicaraguan children have fun working together as a team to build a colorful toy structure.