Lindsey Thiele now sees the world a bit differently.
Through a Life Skills’ #NoFilter Service Abroad Trip, Thiele, a student athlete with Husker Women’s Golf, joined a group of 20 athletes in living and working in the local community of Bastimentos, Panama.
“The theme of the trip is ‘open your mind, change your view, leave your mark’ — I think that perfectly describes it,” said the senior from Wahoo, Nebraska. “It was hard to leave at the end.”
The #NoFilter trip brings a group of 20 athletes to live and work with an indigenous community on the island of Bastimentos, helping the community with a rotating set of projects. This year, Huskers spent a week repairing and repainting the library, helping preschool students with their English, repairing the preschool and constructing a playground.
“To be fully immersed in the local culture was just incredible. They were so generous towards us and were so grateful that we were there,” Thiele said.
And while working with the local children, restoring community resources and exploring the beautiful Panamanian archipelago were among the many highlights for Thiele, the chance to try something new — and a little scary — proved very rewarding.
“Putting myself in this new experience with people I don’t know was a big step, so I’m really proud of myself,” she said.
The trip allowed Thiele to build powerful, lasting relationships with Husker athletes across all sports that she previously only knew in passing.
“We talked so much about how we can go so many years of seeing each other at the training table every day, but not know anyone’s name,” Thiele said. “Now, it feels like we’re family. Our labels of different sports dissolved so quickly because we realized we’re just all the same.”
Dissolving labels and breaking barriers also extended toward the relationships Thiele and her fellow athletes built with people in the community, especially among the young kids they worked with.
“Even with a language barrier, it was incredible how well we were able to interact and communicate just through pure human connection,” she smiled. “The bonds that we were able to build over the week were amazing.”