Formation, Learning, and Service: University of Portland Students’ Exploration of Nicaragua

What happens when eighteen students and three faculty and staff members travel to Nicaragua for three weeks to learn about the political, economical, and social situations of the country? University of Portland's Collaborative for International Studies & Global Outreach (CISGO) attempts to answer that question with Formation, Learning, and Service: University of Portland Students' Exploration of Nicaragua, a digital storytelling project by communication studies professor Courtney Vail Fletcher and videographer/photographer Jeff D. Kennel. Every spring, several University of Portland students, faculty, and staff members take part in the Nicaragua Immersion program through the Moreau Center for Service and Leadership. The program allows students to engage in service learning, focusing on the culture and current social justice issues facing the country. A participant in the 2011 Nicaragua Immersion, Fletcher decided to film the trip for a documentary. "We wanted to come back and share the stories and experiences we had with a wider range of audiences," Fletcher said. "We are only 21 people who got to have the experience, but we can share it with so many through the documentary." Videographer/photographer Jeff Kennel, who works in the Office of Marketing and Communications, also travelled with the group and documented it with film and photos. "We want to touch upon what the students did during the trip and how it will form and change them," Kennel said. "They learned about major overarching issues and we wanted to capture that in this documentary." Formation, Learning, and Service: University of Portland Students' Exploration of Nicaragua is sponsored by the Moreau Center and the Office of Marketing and Communications.