Penn Students Teach and Learn in Central America

Randall Tassone and Jean Lim have returned to campus after spending the summer enriching their lives as well as the lives of people in Nicaragua.

As members of the University of Pennsylvania chapter of Nourish International, students Tassone and Lim spent five weeks in Managua teaching computer classes and instructing residents of the Camilo Ortega community about health and nutrition issues. They worked with Tufts University medical students to teach about healthy eating, weight loss and maintaining the proper weight.

Working alongside a team of students from Wake Forest University, Tassone and Lim also helped residents plant fruit-bearing tree seedlings in the poverty-stricken community.

The experience in Nicaragua was mutually beneficial for the Penn students and the community. Tassone and Lim taught English, and, since their host families only spoke Spanish, Tassone and Lim became more fluent in that language.

“After a week and a half, we were having nice conversations with people, Tassone says. “It was not the rapidness of true fluency, but we definitely we were having normal conversations.”

Tassone says he was inspired by the pre-kindergarten to sixth grade children he taught. “They all kept themselves entertained. All they needed was rocks to make a ball,” Tassone says. “I thought they were more appreciative than American children of what they have.”

Lim says the trip and their work in Nicaragua was a life-changing experience. “Being able to work along such selfless individuals who are dedicating their lives for the improvement of lives and the well-being of the residents was such a privilege and extremely rewarding.”