From high school visits to information fairs, Geneseo students always hear about the wonderful things that this school has to offer. The wise professors, determined sports teams and beautiful sunsets are just some of the many reasons students fall in love with being here. One resource Geneseo has to offer that many people don’t think of, however, is Enlace Project. Enlace Project president senior Summer Stratton explained that the organization is comprised of “a group of students committed to fostering the relationship between Geneseo and Enlace Project—a nonprofit in El Sauce, Nicaragua.” This extraordinary group helps Nicaraguans by building education and business-related infrastructure in the Nicaraguan community. Less notably—but still greatly appreciated—Enlace Project also provides the Geneseo campus with delicious organic Nicaraguan coffee in Books & Bytes.
The program grew from a Geneseo study abroad trip in 2006 in which students went to Nicaragua on the El Sauce Economic Development Program. Co-founders Kellan Morgan ‘06 and Yacarely Mairena were inspired to create an organization with a mission to develop businesses, community projects and educational offerings in El Sauce.
With a team in Nicaragua and a group of Geneseo students on campus helping to keep the relationship strong, Enlace Project has greatly expanded since its start nine years ago. According to its website, Enlace Project is currently working with 18 partners across the United States and in Nicaragua. In total, the organization has hosted nine trips. In 2014 alone, Enlace Project provided El Sauce with over $140,000 and has created six different classes for 61 students at the Enlace Project English School.
“Enlace Project is really a product of Geneseo and I think it is a shining example of the kind of people the college produces,” Enlace Project intern Patrick McCormick ‘15 said in an email interview. Currently living in El Sauce, McCormick went on to explain that the success of Enlace Project is largely due to the fact that members have grown a close connection with the community of El Sauce by listening to and understanding the needs of the people.
Because of the study abroad and individual internship opportunities provided through Geneseo and Enlace Project, students are able to see all the good that has been done by the organization. They also have the chance to personally help others in Nicaragua through the six to eight trips provided every year.
“For students interested in a service-oriented club that has a real impact, it's a great opportunity,” McCormick said. “Join the club, make a difference and get down to El Sauce if you can.”