Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ethical Dilemmas

While in class on Monday, October 27th, we discussed concerns about ethics during the trip particularly when it comes to leaving no trace (LNT). Part of  LNT involves leaving the people and the area as you found them. When Josephina shares her experience in Guatemala and not knowing where the boundaries were in terms of giving anything to community members, I was perplexed by how complicated ethics can be and how there really is no defined list of rules when it comes to ethics. I definitely am looking forward to challenging my own ethical beliefs and learning more about the dilemmas that will most certainly come up on the trip.

I definitely understand from the viewpoint of Bridges to Community that giving to particular families or individuals is troublesome. Having taught middle school students this summer, I was dealt with the ethical dilemma of who to give the extra snacks to. Some students did not what their own snack and other students would want the extra snacks, but there was not enough extra snacks to share around. At first, I offered the extra snacks to whoever raised their hands first but eventually I decided that was unfair to some of the students, and in the end I returned the extra snacks to the office so every student can only have one snack, even if there are extras.

I definitely see myself learning a lot from evaluating ethics in all facets of the trip and definitely know the trip will impact how I perceive and evaluate certain situations.

Getting outside my comfort zone


Part of the reason I am going on the trip to Nicaragua is personal growth and getting outside of my comfort zone. I have always been a city person and never really “outdoorsy”. This past summer I had the opportunity to work with Dartmouth’s DOC First-Year Trips, climbing mountains and exploring the outdoors. As someone who has little outdoors experience, it really forced me to step outside my comfort zone and realize my own mental and physical capabilities.

I know for a fact that I would have a bit of culture shock when I get to Nicaragua but I look forward to the learning experience and growth to be had. I can’t wait to go to a new place in a new continent and engage with local community members as I know for sure that it will expand my knowledge and my comfit zone.


I have rarely travelled outside of the United States. Growing up on the U.S – Mexico border, there were times my parents and I would cross over from El Paso, TX to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico but not as a tourist. However, I distinctly remember a time my family went on a vacation cruise from Southern California to Baja California. One of the destinations on the cruise was Ensenada, Mexico. Although the city is somewhat far from the border, it was a major tourist destination because of all the cruises that stop by there.

I went on that cruise when I was in the 8th grade, but I never had the opportunity to reflect about my experience as a tourist because all that was going on my mind while I was there was the scenery, the language, but not really the impact of tourism on the town. While I was in Ensenada, I was amazed by how different it was from Juarez. Although both are Mexican towns, one was a tourist destination and the other was a place tourists try to avoid. While tourism stimulates the economy and brings money to the local people, tourism quickly deteriorates the local culture and turns the town into a facade.

In my second abroad experience as a tourist, my family took a tour around Taiwan. For a week and a half we travelled on a tour bus and went to every major destination around the island. It was interesting to see the amount of tourists that were visiting, particularly from mainland China. Many restaurants, hotels, etc. were made only for the tourists and I remember feeling like I was a product on a production line, seeing what everyone else sees but not getting an opportunity to connect with the local people. Instead, I was able to connect with the tourists more than I was with the locals.


I took Spanish in school from 7th grade up to the end of 11th grade (AP Spanish Language). I grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border (El Paso, TX) where a majority of the people understood Spanish and a large portion of the people did not speak English. At the time, it made sense to choose to learn Spanish over French (the other language offered). Although it has been over two years since I have taken a Spanish class, I feel I have retained a lot of what I learned. Arguably, listening comprehension has gotten easier over the years as I’ve become more accustomed to hearing it. However, I have definitely noticed a deterioration of my speaking abilities as conjugations, vocabulary production, and other grammatical structures do not come so easy anymore.

I have also grown up speaking Chinese (Cantonese) but never had formal schooling in it. My parents speak very basic English so back at home, Cantonese is the main language that everyone speaks. However, I have also noticed my Cantonese deteriorating over the years as I have spoken less and less at home. Although my accent is fine, I have trouble understanding a lot of vocabulary and sayings. Sometimes it is impossible to explain to my parents things that fall outside the realm of things we usually talk about (food, school, family, housekeeping, etc.) I also can not read or write Chinese and cannot understand Mandarin so Cantonese has definitely been a “family” language to me since I seldom use it outside of my family.

I am not concerned about speaking Spanish on the trip but do foresee myself needing the assistance of others when trying to have a complex and more serious conversation because the speaking is much more difficult than the listening. I hope to become more confident in my Spanish skills and refresh everything that has become rusty the past few years.

Why the Nicaragua CCESP?

I have always enjoyed community service and was interested in the opportunities available at Dartmouth for me to pursue service. After participating in the Tucker Foundation’s Florida ASB trip, I was motivated to go on more trips to explore themes of service and community. After my first year of college, I was amazed by how service goes beyond just “helping” people and how much the educational component of a service program matters in the larger scheme. I began delving more deeply into International Development, attending conferences on development and joining the International Development Forum.

I was motivated to participate in the Nicaragua CCESP because it would give me a more tangible understanding of development and will be my first international service/educational trip. I was also looking for a trip that had an educational component and was more focused on experiential learning as opposed to trying to go in and “fix” what we deem is wrong.

I hope the class challenges the way I view international development and I look forward to learning more about the details about development. It is exciting to take a “bottom-up”¬†approach rather than a “top-bottom” approach focused on broad generalizations. I have also taken five years of Spanish but am excited for the opportunity to use my Spanish in an impactful way even though it has been two years.

I am currently also taking Econ 39 International Trade and look forward to taking a multidisciplinary approach to learning about Economics, Service, and International Affairs.