Hailing from New Jersey, Gianna Maita is a student in Georgetown College (class of 2015), majoring in Justice and Peace Studies with a concentration in Social Development and a minor in Arabic. During summer 2014 she conducted interviews at the Central American University in Nicaragua as part of the Education and Social Justice Project through the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Center for Social Justice, Teaching and Service. Gianna is also a co-chair for Homeless Outreach Programs and Education, a student organization at Georgetown University, and she works for the Program on Justice and Peace as a program assistant. She is particularly interested in homelessness, social cohesion, peace education, and gender issues.

Student Engagement in Social Justice at the Universidad Centroamericana
Gianna Maita, Georgetown University

Civic engagement of young people has evolved in Nicaragua as its political environment has changed. There is a marked difference between youth involvement in Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution from 1979 through the early 1980s, when it was a cultural norm for young people to serve in solidarity with the poor, and today, when universities must push students to connect and learn with disadvantaged communities. Interviews about servicelearning, community-based research and other programs in marginalized, local communities and the broader Nicaraguan society were conducted at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) with students, faculty, staff, and community members to explore what this evolving dynamic of social justice engagement looks like at a Jesuit University. On the campus of the UCA, the change in youth interest in civic involvement is clear, though the possible reasons for this change vary.

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