Create Your Own Autumn Wreath

Find Beauty Friday Hashtag

There is beauty around us all every day. It’s often overlooked for any number of reasons, but if you look hard enough, you will find it! When you do, share it in the comments or by using #FindBeautyFriday.
Need a little nudge? On Friday’s we will post our suggestions for creative ways to notice all of the beautiful things in your life more often. And maybe include a fun art project in the mix! 

The fall weather is upon us and the perfect way to appreciate what’s around you is to simply go for a walk!

This time of year the ground is covered with bright, colorful leaves falling from the trees. With the help of a wire wreath frame (or even a few old coat hangers), you could make a seasonal decoration simply from what you gather during your walk. Breathe in the fresh autumn air as you collect a small bag of whatever leaves or pieces of nature catch your eye. When you return home weave the stems of the leaves between the wires to hold it in place, layering the larger leaves in back and the smaller leaves in front. Over time the leaves will dry out. Some will retain a pleasant shape and color, but if the look of a leaf within your wreath is no longer beautiful to you, carefully pull it out trying not to disturb any of the other leaves around it and then go for another walk to find some fresh leaves! Happy Autumn!

#FindBeautyFriday #BeautyBeyondBorders

Autumn Wreathe


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Beauty Beyond Borders “I see beauty in…” Poll

Help Beauty Beyond Borders get as many responses as possible to find the top 6 answers! Please share the poll and know that your responses are anonymous!
I see beauty in - Mural


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Culebra, Puerto Rico Photo Walk

In December of 2015, Beauty Beyond Borders traveled to the small island of Culebra, Puerto Rico to work with members of the local community. Thanks to the assistance of the Culebra Foundation (Fundacion de Culebra), 10 children and family members joined us for a photo walk through the community. The Culebra Foundation is dedicated to preserving the environment, culture and history of the island of Culebra. The photos below picture the community members who participated in the Beauty Beyond Borders photo walk. 

Culebra, Puerto Rico Photo Walk

Adieren and Yamir in their Beauty Beyond Borders t-shirtsAs in past photo walks, each participant received a hand-painted Beauty Beyond Borders t-shirt and a digital camera. Participants were instructed to take photos of anything within their community that they consider beautiful. Although the ages of our participants varied, there was a consistent theme in the photos being taken: each photo had a unique beauty.

The photos captured might be different than what you usually see in magazines, on television and in other media outlets, but each photo had meaning to the person behind the camera. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder and the community members of Culebra proved that beyond a doubt. From hand-painted artwork to holiday decorations, stone sculptures, friends and more – these were just a few of the favorite photos chosen by the children and families. 

Culebra photo walk Jerome favorite photoCulebra photo walk Carmen favorite photoCulebra photo walk Adieren favorite photo

After the photo walk was complete, each participant shared their favorite photo and the meaning behind the photo with the entire group. These beautiful images and stories can be found on the Beauty Beyond Borders Facebook Page.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this trip possible. We are blessed to be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us every day, and we are so grateful to share this beauty with the Culebra community!

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The Story Behind the Art

This past trip, Beauty Beyond Borders partnered with Love Light and Melody during their Dia De Luz festival. Love Light and Melody set up a full stage in the middle of Dia De Luz Festival hosted by Love Light and Melodythe street in Villa Guadalupe, Nicaragua for the whole community to enjoy amazingly talented artists like Brad Corrigan and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. While they were out in the street prepping, we were doing our best to hide behind the fence as we secretly filled up three 5 gallon buckets of water balloons for an epic water balloon battle. Then the only challenge was how to get the water balloons away from all of the electrical equipment for the concert setup and out to a safe balloon battlefield. Luckily Tim Bouldry stepped up and sacrificed himself. The kids already had their eyes on us and were watching intently for the moment they could get their hands on the water balloons. Beauty Beyond Borders Fills Water Balloon bucketsWe gave Tim a small bucket of balloons and sent him out the back door drawing all the kids over in that direction while we quickly tried to untie the rope holding the gate closed and run out into the streets. Three of us, each carrying a five gallon bucket sprinted down the street to the intersection and away from all the sound equipment. We somehow made it, placed our buckets equidistant from each other, and realized we had really done it. The kids had no idea where we were! But wait, how are we going to have a water balloon fight if the kids don’t know where we are? Well don’t you worry, that didn’t take long! The girls Young girl in Villa Guadalupe throws the first water balloonstanding on the corner had the opportunity to throw the first water balloons at us, but it wasn’t long after that the stampede arrived! The balloons were gone within minutes and all that was left were soaking wet kids with giant smiles on their faces. A few late arrivals came up to us wondering how they had missed all the fun, but that wasn’t the end of it! We told them we were just going back to refill and once the next battle started to find one of us and we would hold one aside to make sure they got to take part.
Children running towards the Beauty Beyond Borders water balloon fight


We refilled each of the buckets wondering the whole time if we were going to be able Beauty Beyond Borders refills water balloonsto distract the kids enough again to make it away from the equipment. All the kids now knew there was a battle coming and stared even more excitedly through the fence waiting for the balloons to be filled. When the time came we released our distraction one more time. This time all of us had to start walking back with the buckets and then as soon as the kids saw us all leave we snuck back out again and made a run for it! Luckily our legs were longer because after we made it to the intersection it was only second before we were surrounded by kids and in the middle of the water balloon fight. We were each able to grab and pass off a balloon or two to each of the kids who had approached us last fight and by the end everyone was smiling.

Having heard about a small water balloon fight the community had previously, and how BBB Water Balloon Fight in Villa Guadalupemuch fun they had, when we began planning what we would do for the kids on the day of the festival, we were intent on finding a way to make a water balloon battle happen. However Villa Guadalupe is created right outside La Chureca trash dump, where the majority of the community used to live and work, so the last thing we wanted to do was bring trash into the streets of their new home. We instead came up with an alternative. As it began to get dark and the music from the stage started echoing through the streets, members of the community helped us walk around the intersection and collect all the water balloon pieces into the buckets. We then brought all these pieces back to the United States where we have turned the trash into artful memorabilia of that event.

This is where the contest we have been hinting at comes in! We took a photo from the water ballon fight and fit it to the bottom of a vase, then lined the interior with the pieces of water balloons from the festival in Nicaragua and sealed it with a water resistant polyurethane coating. This handmade, one of a kind piece will be raffled off on Thanksgiving morning AND YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN IT!
BBB Challenge Ad Vase Photos


Simply post a photo of something in your life that you are thankful for and the story behind the photo. Include #BeautyBeyondBorders at the end of your story and tag our page (Beauty Beyond Borders) in the photo so we are sure to see your post. Then challenge your friends to do the same! You’ll earn one entry into the raffle for every photo/story you post, and an extra two entries for every friend that accepts your challenge!

The challenge begins November 1st at 1:00am EST and ends November 25 at 12:00am EST. A winner will be drawn at random on Thanksgiving morning and announced that day. Good luck and start thinking and posting positively to win!

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Beauty Beyond Borders – Managua 2015


Last week Beauty Beyond Borders traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to work with over 35 individuals of all different ages from 3 unique communities. The photos above are the group photos from each of the 4 photo walks we took within these communities.

Each participant was given one of the hand-painted Beauty Beyond Borders t-shirts that were created at the paint night events held prior to the trip.  They were also given a digital camera and were told to take photos of anything within their community that they consider to be beautiful and has meaning to them.  At the end of the photo walk, each participant looked through all the photos they had taken and chose their favorite.  They then explained to the group their reasoning behind choosing this photo as their favorite.

Each of these individual’s photos and their story behind the photos will be posted on our Facebook page ( At the end of the week we printed out the group photo and favorite photo for each individual so they could have an additional reminder of their experience with Beauty Beyond Borders and the beauty they acknowledged in their life.

Beauty Beyond Borders delivers their printed photos to the Nueva Vida community

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this trip possible. We could not have succeeded in all we wanted to do for these communities without your support!

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Support Beauty Beyond Borders!

Help a Community in Managua Share Its Beauty.

Photo Taken at La Chureca by Love Light and Melody

Photo Taken at La Chureca by Love Light and Melody

PLEASE SHARE this post so everyone who may be able to help has the opportunity to support and learn more about Beauty Beyond Borders!

IT’S OFFICIAL! Beauty Beyond Borders will be joining Love Light and Melody and Ileana’s Smile in Managua, Nicaragua in June at their “Dia de Luz // Day of Light” event. This is a three-day event where we will be serving and celebrating alongside the families living in the Villa Guadalupe resettlement community from the La Chureca trash dump. In addition to the three full days of community cleanup and celebration through music, art, and nature, Beauty Beyond Borders will also work with as many individuals within the community as possible so they too can accept the #BeautyBeyondBorders challenge. When Beauty Beyond Borders made our first trip to Nicaragua, we worked with five students in Leon to create a collection of photos from each of them illustrating the true beauty of their country.  This trip we have much larger goals. Instead of creating photo collections from five individuals, we would like to create one large photo collection from the entire community.  This would consist of a single photo from each individual representing something of beauty to them, and the story behind the photo.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! In order to achieve this goal, we will need your help! Donations of working digital cameras of any kind. This means old cell phones, or anything else you have that can take a decent digital photo. These donations are imperative to this project succeeding. If you do not have an old camera to donate you can still support the project by donating to Beauty Beyond Borders using our page on Thank you all for your continued support!

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#BeautyBeyondBorders Challenge

Beauty Beyond Borders has a challenge for you!

Post a photo to social media that you consider to be beautiful along with the story behind this photo. Think outside the box, beyond the typical sense of the word ‘beauty’ and tag it with #beautybeyondborders. This may be something that others may not initially see as beautiful, but your accompanying story will explain the moment that was captured and the significance of this moment to you personally. Please feel free to include this challenge with your post so others are inspired to do the same.

You can view the collection of posts with this hashtag on the Beauty Beyond Borders Tagboard

Boy in La Ceiba, Nicaragua


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BBB_Gallery Photos

Beauty Beyond Borders has already begun to make a difference with your help. If you have been following the project, you have seen the work the students from Alianza Americana created. These collections of photos were presented in the posts below and based on your votes, the ‘fans favorites’ were presented in two different gallery showings. The photos above are a collection of these gallery showings, which not only allowed some supporters to take home their favorite Beauty Beyond Borders prints, but also raised money to help future students at Alianza Americana.

I absolutely loved being able to see and discuss all of the students work with everyone who attended the gallery showings. I was able to share stories behind certain photos that had been shared with me by the students, and it was amazing to see how much these stories changed the way people saw the photos. Personal experience was another element that completely altered the way a person viewed and felt about a photo. Someone who had been to Nicaragua and seen first hand the tunnels below the León Cathedral had a much different response to Hector’s potentially ominous photo than someone who had never been.

With your feedback and my experiences, what my first efforts as Beauty Beyond Borders has taught me is that everyone is impacted differently. From the very beginning the goal of Beauty Beyond Borders was not only to help these student’s share their photos and the beauty they know exists in their country, but also to open your eyes to the beauty you may be missing and have and impact in your own life. I have been working to find the best way to achieve these goals and have some exciting news and a challenge for all of you that will be announced soon. Thank you again to everyone who has helped support Beauty Beyond Borders thus far. Keep checking in because there will be more to come soon!

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Help Beauty Beyond Borders Grow

It’s been a bit of a chilly winter, but Beauty Beyond Borders is warming back up! All of YOU, its amazing followers and supporters, are what has made Beauty Beyond Borders a success thus far. As a new organization looking to grow we would LOVE to get your feedback!

What has been your favorite part of Beauty Beyond Borders? Was it seeing each student’s home through their own eyes? Or was it being able to take home your favorite printed photos, knowing that you have helped make a difference with your donations?

What do you wish Beauty Beyond Borders could provide? Is it more stories behind the photos taken? Maybe it is more photos overall. Or, would you simply like more opportunities to donate and support the students?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or send an email with your feedback, and help shape the future of Beauty Beyond Borders. Thank you in advance for your honest opinions!

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Hector Leon Photo Collection

“To work with Beauty Beyond Borders and share my photos has been great, because I have had the experience to learn something new. All this time I have begun to look at photos in another way. I will keep taking photos!” – Hector Leon


Click the image to view the full photo.



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Maritza Narvaez Photo Collection

“My experience with Beauty Beyond Borders was one of the greatest experiences I´ve ever had. It showed me how beautiful life is through taking pictures, looking beyond what the world looks like. I also had a lot of fun with this project spending time with friends and having new experiences.” – Maritza Narvaez


Click the image to view the full photo.

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Maxdoniel Cruz Photo Collection

From the beginning, this project was a very interesting experience for me, because I was learning about photography and for me it was a totally different world.

I learned that behind an image there is always a story and that sometimes there are pictures that remain in the heart.

I have taken a lot of photos of places I like and the wonders that are so close to us in our country—only a few steps away—places that remain in your memory that you never forget. When taking a photograph that other people see and they tell you that it’s a nice view or a beautiful place and they hope to be able to go there, I think and say to myself…I was there.” – Maxdoniel Cruz


Click the image to view the full photo.



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Eduardo Manzanares Photo Collection

I was excited to work with Beauty Beyond Borders because in Nicaragua we did not have materials like those kind of cameras. Alicia is a great teacher and she knows so much that we had not had the experience to learn before. I would like to know more about photography and the lessons learned from Beauty Beyond Borders and stretch or extend the program to all of Nicaragua to teach as many people as possible.” – Eduardo Manzanares 

Click the image to view the full photo.



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Erick Vasquez Photo Collection

All I can say about working with Beauty Beyond Borders is it was such an amazing experience. Just the fact of taking photos that express the beauty of your own nation, country, or city is awesome because it shows the hidden beauty and how impressive it is to see and to appreciate all the great things in each picture… And being part of something like this is unforgettable….” -Erick Vasquez

Click the image to view the full photo.



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Beauty Beyond Borders Student Video Montage

Meet Hector, Erick, Maritza, Eduardo, and Maxdoniel! An introduction to the students who worked with Beauty Beyond Borders in Nicaragua through this short video montage of their work. Enjoy!

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Recap of the Week

Take a look at a recap of photos and videos from the week in Nicaragua.  The images and footage were all taken by the project founder, Alicia Chouinard. More videos and images taken by the students will be coming soon. So keep checking in!

Click on the image to view larger.

La playa in Nicaragua

La Playa

Botanical Garden in Leon

Botanical Garden in Leon, Nicaragua

Botanical Garden in Nicaragua

More shots of the Botanical Garden

Butterfly in the cactus section of the Botanical Garden

Butterfly in the cactus section of the Botanical Garden

Students at the middle school in La Ceiba

Students at the middle school in La Ceiba

Students on break at school in La Ceiba

Students on break at school in La Ceiba

Classrooms in La Ceiba, Nicaragua built by Quinnipiac University student volunteers

Classrooms in La Ceiba

Students in class at the middle school in La Ceiba, Nicaragua

Students in class at the middle school in La Ceiba

Cathedral in Leon

Cathedral in Leon

Cathedral Rooftop in Leon

Looking out onto the Cathedral roof

On our way to the Island in Nicaragua

Heading towards the Island

Isla Juan Venado, Nicaragua

Isla Juan Venado

Beach on Isla Juan Venado

Beach on Isla Juan Venado

Students in Leon, Nicaragua after school

Students in Leon hanging out after school

Beach Sunset Nicaragua

Sunset at la playa

Hiking Cerro Negro Volcano

Top of Cerro Negro

Cerro Negro Volcano Nicaragua

Another view from the top of Cerro Negro

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And So it Begins!

The project has officially begun!  Five students from Alianza Americana have received donated digital cameras and Flip Mino HD cameras and will spend the next few months creating a portfolio of work that illustrates the beauty of life.  In particular, what they think makes life in Nicaragua special and unique.

Continue checking in to follow the project and if you haven’t already, go on Facebook and ‘like’ the Beauty Beyond Borders page to follow there as well!

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Get to know Beauty Beyond Borders on YouTube

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Call for Sponsors!

Beauty. That is probably not the first word that comes to mind when talking about third world countries. Usually people think of poverty, danger or just plain dirty. Beauty Beyond Borders looks past all of that and recognizes the true beauty of these countries.

Beauty Beyond Borders is a capstone project for a Quinnipiac University graduate student, Alicia Chouinard. The mission is to give youth in developing countries the opportunity to create and share works of art illustrating the true beauty of their country.

The project will start in Leon, Nicaragua with students at Alianza Americana. Between 5 and 10 students will receive a donated digital camera. Over one week, students will be given lessons and a specific area of focus in order to produce a collection of photos, videos, and accompanying text-based narrative that illustrates their given topic. With the assistance of experienced photographers and designers, the chosen students will be given the opportunity to illustrate the beauty of their country in order to show people that beauty exists in even the unlikeliest of places.

Over a series of months the students will capture, create, and submit their work to the project lead, Alicia, who will edit and compile selected pieces.  The project will be available to follow here, at this blog as well as through twitter, youtube, and facebook. This Blog will be updated and maintained by Alicia and the students in Nicaragua.

At the conclusion of the project each student’s work will be displayed in gallery showings taking place at the Albert Schweitzer Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, the Studio of Photographic Arts in Manchester, New Hampshire and Alianza Americana in Leon, Nicaragua.

In order for this project to work, donations of digital cameras are imperative. If you decide to sponsor this project your name and logo will be featured on the Blog as well as in any news articles or other forms of publicity that Beauty Beyond Borders may receive.  Please join Beauty Beyond Borders efforts in making this amazing initiative take place.  For more information or if you are interested in sponsoring this project please contact Alicia Chouinard at

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About the Project

Each student will be given a donated camera and basic lessons in photography in order to produce a collection of photos, videos, and reflective narrative that illustrates the beauty of their country.

Each student’s work will be displayed in gallery showings at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. At these galleries elements from each student’s collection will be presented in a creative, professional manner. This Blog will track the progress of the project and the student’s work.


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