What PSU senior Andrea Krupsky will remember most about her work with Si a la Vida, a Nicaraguan social service agency, is the unexpected bonds she formed with the young boys she met on the streets. When she first arrived in Managua in October 2005, Krupsky struggled to find ways to gain the trust of these children, who had faced poverty, neglect and substance abuse for most of their lives. But by the time she left the country in March, she had become a caring mentor who would be greatly missed.
“I think my leaving was harder on them than it was on me. I can only imagine what they have gone through, with so many people coming in and out of their lives. I was just another person leaving them, and these emotions of sadness and even anger showed in their tears the day of my going away party,” said Krupsky. “I made sure I told them that they would be fine, and that they would continue to grow in the program … even though I wouldn’t be there.”
Krupsky, a communication studies major and Spanish minor who will graduate summa cum laude from PSU later this month, combined her commitment to service and her Spanish language skills in this hands-on internship, one of many international service opportunities offered at the University. For six months, Krupsky worked with Si a la Vida (“Yes to Life”), a social service agency that provides education and rehabilitation to impoverished street children in Nicaragua. Most of the kids helped by the agency are boys between the ages of nine and 14. Many are addicted to sniffing glue or other illegal drugs, and have had few opportunities to attend school or develop job skills.
During her internship, Krupsky had the opportunity to help the organization with its outreach efforts, recruiting young boys to become part of the Si a la Vida program. She also spent time teaching and mentoring the children, some of whom live at the agency’s small center in Managua. The goal of Si a la Vida, says Krupsky, is to help kids overcome drug addictions, access health care and nutritional foods, learn to read and develop practical job skills in mechanics, carpentry or other trades. Some children are able to be reintegrated into the families they left behind. Others remain in residential homes as they recover from lives of drug use, neglect and crime.
Krupsky was so affected by her time spent in Managua that she hopes to secure a full-time service job in Nicaragua next year. Just a few days after she graduates from PSU, Krupsky will leave for a two-week service trip to Nicaragua. Krupsky is one of a dozen PSU students from the Nicaragua Club who will volunteer with a social service organization, Mujeres en Accion, that provides aid to women, families and children in need.
Right now, Krupsky is exploring opportunities to work with street children in Nicaragua. This summer, she will return home to Sanford, Maine, but she hopes to be back in Nicaragua next fall, helping young boys move from hopelessness to hope. Until then, she says she will never forget the children she met this year.
“These boys will always have a special place in my heart, and have made me a better person without even knowing it,” said Krupsky.
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