The Pulsera Project travels to Nicaragua twice a year with student volunteers who have led pulsera sales in schools across the country. These trips offer students a rich and often life-changing cultural exchange with the Nicaraguans who their sales have supported.
Each student who travels with us writes an essay reflecting on their Nica experience that we send to an email list of supporters as well as to more than 9,000 Pulsera Project fans on Facebook. These essays offer not only a rich insight into the spirit of altruism and adventure that these trips are known for, but many times they also make strides at answering serious questions about the root of happiness, dreams, and the idea that we are all friends, we are all equals. Here are some of the essential stories from past trips.
"Why do affluent, educated people now drive to supermarkets stocked with largely unhealthy, processed, packaged foods while our small farmers, doctors, scientists, exercise gurus, and countless others implore us to buy fresh, buy local – just like uneducated people do in the second poorest country in the hemisphere. Is this Magical Realism?"
Through our consumption habits, we have the ability to change the world while we're at home. Jamie, a pulsera trip veteran, looks at how our shopping decisions can have consequences for people in Nicaragua, and for people all around the world as well.
"La Chureca" is an enormous landfill and dump where an estimated 1,500 people used to live before reforms were made in 2012. Co-Founder Chris Howell reflects on the humanity present in this foreign place, and sums it up best when he says, "what we need most is eachother."
University of Oregon graduate Caitlin Jarvis "wakes up" from her sleepwalk to see the beauty of life in a simple place like Nicaragua, and encourages readers to wake up from their own slumbers as well.
Written in the early days of the Pulsera Project, co-founder Colin Crane explores some interesting ideas about dreams and happiness, and foreshadows the new direction the Pulsera Project took in 2011 when it started providing jobs for dozens of artists across Nicaragua.
"Economic status goes out the window at that point as every man, and woman, or child can choose to live his or her life in a way that is humble, passionate, and seriously beneficial for not only humanity, but for the natural world, recognizing our place as merely leaves in a forest."
Pulsera Project trips reject the idea that we are going to Nicaragua to "save" anyone, or that we have more to give people in Nicaragua than we have to receive from them. Abby challenges these common interpretations of charity in this summer trip essay.
"That's Nicaragua right there--a wasteland where beauty has somehow managed to flourish."