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Dayton Engineer

ETHOS Center and Grupo Fenix Partner to Improve Developing Communities

By Elizabeth Skelin, marketing communications intern

Oscar Sanchez Lopez has been studying English and working in the ETHOS Center to strengthen the partnership between the University of Dayton and his organization, Grupo Fenix. 

Grupo Fenix aids in community development for rural communities in Nicaragua. Student groups execute projects that help with local needs, such as the environment, education, health, and gender equality. Through various partners and innovative technology, Grupo Fenix has sustainably improved the quality of life in many Nicaraguan communities. 

Sanchez Lopez began volunteering with Grupo Fenix in 2015 by organizing and distributing hardware for projects. Before coming to the United States, Sanchez Lopez also worked as an accounting assistant and in Organizational Development and Community Development for Grup Fenix.

Last year, he came to the University of Dayton to learn English through the intensive English program with support from the ETHOS Center. Before arriving in the United States, he communicated between developing communities and program coordinators for Grupo Fenix. Currently, he works as an intermediary between the ETHOS Center and Grupo Fenix, helping to organize projects and support the ETHOS Center. 

“I like working with Grupo Fenix because of the shared expertise and experience with people from other countries…and the knowledge empowerment of the members of the solar community,” Sanchez Lopez said. 

Many Grupo Fenix projects involve sustainable and renewable energy with a goal of improving existing systems and technology in developing communities. For over 15 years, the ETHOS Center has sent students to Nicaragua on international immersions and breakouts, where they complete projects such as installing solar panels to power pump watering systems and developing sustainable composting latrines.

Besides strengthening the partnership between ETHOS and Grupo Fenix, Sanchez Lopez has helped many students with their Spanish skills. While he came to UD to study English, about half of the students embarking on international immersions through ETHOS go to Spanish-speaking countries. Sanchez Lopez helped run game nights and held one-on-one meetings with students to improve their Spanish in casual settings. 

Nicaragua is a developing country, without many of the resources available in the United States. Projects with Grupo Fenix allow UD students to understand the technology of a developing country. Students from the ETHOS center have been a great help to Grupo Fenix.

”Students have knowledge and ideas about technology and how they can improve, innovate and share knowledge with local people in projects,” Sanchez Lopez said. 

Through this partnership, future immersions with Grupo Fenix will continue to support the values of the School of Engineering by educating students to be more socially and globally aware and take on the world’s issues with an engineering mindset. 

In the meantime, due to the global pandemic, Grupo Fenix has lost its primary sources of funding—course and volunteer fees—generated from students who come to Nicaragua for training and volunteer work.

To learn more about Grupo Fenix, their projects, and their impact, please visit  Donations are now being accepted though the group’s new sponsor, FNE International, at to continue the group’s work.

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