Kathy DiBiasi and her son Peter, a senior at Fox Lane High School, are dedicated Bridges volunteers. They have been on three Bridges trips together, and Kathy herself had traveled on 8 Bridges trips to Nicaragua with Bedford Presbyterian Church before Peter turned 15 and began traveling with her.
As the Director of Educational Ministries with the church, she loves the Bridges experience and thinks it has been incredibly impactful. Especially on her first trip, Kathy says, “I had a hard time seeing how people live and the quality of their homes. We saw the current living conditions and that was the first time I ever saw poverty at that level. I had to stop the tears from flowing. I loved it though, being in the community and spending time with the families. It wasn’t until I got home that it hit me. I came home, and I had my beautiful home: the carpet, running water, everything, and it was so hard to process all of that.”
Kathy has especially enjoyed her experiences on Bridges trips now that Peter has been traveling with her. She has watched him grow throughout his three trips and feels the change has been significant. Every time that Peter returns from a Bridges trip, Kathy says, “Peter is like a different kid. He has more energy, and it gives him perspective. I am always so happy that he goes on the trips.”
Peter and Kathy both love the sense of community that they feel on the Bridges trips. Kathy says, “I know it’s not everywhere in Nicaragua, but people’s community-mindedness in the rural areas is incredible. I know there are tremendous challenges, but it is wonderful to be around people in this way because, in the US, everyone seems to be more isolated, busier, and we interact less with other people. On the Bridges trips, there is an overarching sense of kindness; people interact and work together, trying to do something good with and for other people.
It’s been wonderful for Peter. He has had to get out of his comfort zone and work on relationship-building skills, for example interacting with the group and with people in the community. And he has done a great job. Peter has become great friends with Nazario (one of the Nindirí masons) and enjoys communicating with people who are very different from him. In fact, he has realized that they are not so different after all.”
Bridges has also brought a certain sense of awareness and perspective to Peter’s life. Kathy says, “Definitely the Bridges experience makes you see that not everyone lives the way we do, and it is so easy to stay in your own little bubble. I think my son understands that he happens to have been born in this particular place; it’s a matter of circumstance, and it is no one’s fault, but we all have an obligation to do what we can to support others and make the world a little bit better. It’s not over after the Bridges trip. We have to continue to do this every day. The Bridges experience brings on a complete change of mindset and Peter looks at the world differently. Whether he makes the world a better place by giving money or time to local causes or causes abroad, I hope he continues to give back to the world and live every day just a little bit differently.”
Peter agrees. He says, “Nicaragua has changed my life. I learned the importance of supporting others and what it means to be a good neighbor. I am profoundly grateful for the experiences I have had in Nicaragua. One day I hope to go back and see all my friends.”