Events & Newsletters

Youth Cultural Exchange to Host Nicaraguan Youth

First Universalist Church’s Youth Cultural Exchange (YCE) group is busily preparing to host participants’ Nicaraguan “siblings” this July. 

Twelve teens from the church travelled to León summer of 2015. They had a wonderful experience living with their host family and participating in educational and fun activities all day, every day, with a group of twelve Nicaraguan teens.

Since last summer, the teens have kept in touch through Facebook and with letters. Everyone is looking forward to being reunited this July when the Minnesota teens host the Nicaraguans.

The YCE group meets every month and has been planning the daily activities they will be engaged in this summer—touring downtown Minneapolis, the Guthrie, Stone Arch Bridge; possibly taking a trip to Duluth to see Lake Superior and to stay in a hotel with a waterpark; and other outings.

The group will also focus on social justice, making and serving a meal for homeless people at the Simpson Shelter and volunteering at a bilingual preschool for native Spanish speakers.

The Minnesota teens have been fundraising for almost two years to pay for the Nicaraguan teens, and their chaperones, to fly to Minnesota (and to cover their PML fees and other costs). The Minnesota teens will raise about $37,000 through weekly eggroll sales at church, a chocolate truffle sale for Valentine’s Day (the teens make the truffles by hand), and a book/DVD sale.

This two-year program is an intensive and time-consuming experience, but all the work will be worth it when the Nicaraguan teens come to Minnesota. This is a life-changing experience for all twenty-four teenagers as they unite in friendship across cultural, language, and economic differences. 

After all, teenagers are teenagers. They laugh, brood, listen to music and share their stories.