Volunteer Highlight: Matthias’ Story

Matthias Schildwachter, Educator, El Segundo, California

“My experiences in Nicaragua gave me the courage to pursue certain jobs that would make me happy and Bridges to Community helped set me on this path.”

In the summer of 2001, Matthias Schildwachter took the trip of a lifetime with Bridges to Community to Nicaragua with his three of his childhood friends. He was an undergraduate at Boston College at the time, and was participating in a Bedford Presbyterian Church college leadership trip with various universities from the Northeast.

He always had a passion for service and had participated on similar trips in the United States, however he found a “whole other level” of poverty in Nicaragua. It was his first trip to Central America and he quickly became acutely aware of the dire situation and the lack of resources. He also learned of the grace and openness of the Nicaraguan people that he encountered. His positive experiences caused him to return to Nicaragua the following summer, but this time he was one of the leaders of a Bridges’ group.

Some of the highlights from both of his trips were the powerful conversations that he had with his peers and his trip leader, Rev. Paul Alcorn. Matthias recalls that they “shared and looked at deeper issues.” Specifically, they addressed the important conversation of how to move forward and live their lives based on their experiences in Nicaragua.

Matthias realized that teaching would meet his need to become fulfilled. After his second trip to Nicaragua, Matthias applied to the Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education (PLACE Corps), which is Loyola Marymount University’s Catholic teacher service corps. After teaching for three years, Matthias moved into administration. He found this to be a way of giving back because he helped set youths on their paths. Since his experiences in Nicaragua, Matthias realized his passion for traveling and has since visited all 50 states and various countries all over the world.

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