Students to travel to Nicaragua on grant

For many students, summer entails a boring job or internship, but two Geneseo students are taking this time to change communities and lives in El Sauce, Nicaragua.

Juniors Allison Kornblatt and Mike Skovira plan on traveling to rural school areas in El Sauce to implement Kornblatt's "For the Future Smiles of El Sauce" project, where they will teach the community about dental hygiene and nutrition.

"We take for granted that we know a lot about dental hygiene, but a lot of other communities don't," said Skovira.

Kornblatt started the project by requesting a grant with the help of Rosemary McEwen, foreign language associate professor and department chair. "Dr. McEwen has been an amazing adviser and has helped me immensely," said Kornblatt.

She was one of four students to receive $1,000 grants through the Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur program conducted by the New York Campus Compact. Kornblatt said that the money from the grant will go toward items that may be needed to teach the Nicaraguan community, such as laminated materials to preserve distributed information.

To further the project's success Kornblatt decided to ask the Pre-Dental Club, of which Skovira is president, for help. "It is my hope that they will take a big part in it," she said. "That way I know that this program can continue after I graduate. Without them, it would just be me. And that certainly wouldn't make as big of an impact."

The club has participated in community outreach programs in Rochester distributing dental hygiene products that were supplied for free by Procter & Gamble, Crest's mother company. Kornblatt and Skovira said they were hopeful that they would receive similar support from the company for the El Sauce project.

"We are hoping to gather the dental supplies through donations," said Kornblatt. They said that anyone who would like to donate supplies is welcome to do so, and should contact either of them. They may also implement a donation drive.

Skovira said that although this project will be very different from local programs the club has participated in, he expects it to be very rewarding. "We haven't been over there yet, so it's tough to say how it will work," he said.

Both Kornblatt and Skovira said they are glad to be doing something they believe in that will improve the quality of life in El Sauce. "What's great about this program is that you can create your own internship based on what the community needs," said Kornblatt. "The time I spend on this and anything we do is going to really impact someone's life."