As I continue to embark on this journey as a Global Advocate Fellow for Mama Hope, it has become much more than just a placeholder on my resume. Time and energy aside, I’ve been challenged to think about why I’ve dedicated nine months of my life working with the Budondo Intercultural Center.
I’ve asked myself – why take on this endeavor? Why does a distant community’s success matter to me? I’ve learned that we are all interconnected and I believe everyone brings something valuable to an interaction. By listening and collaborating, we can empower each other to improve the lives of individuals and communities around the world.
I come from an incredibly fortunate background that provided me with eye-opening cultural opportunities. I was placed in a Spanish dual language immersion program in Kindergarten, and throughout life my family hosted over 20 exchange students in our home. In these experiences, I learned early on that I was a global citizen; and have always had an appreciation of travel, learning about cultures, and understanding different perspectives of life.
Upon graduating from high school, I decided to be an exchange student in a Gap Year program with AFS International. This decision took me to Paraguay, where I lived with a host family and taught English to first through sixth graders. During that year, my life changed. It was an emotional rollercoaster. Some moments leaving me seeing the beauty in the world, some resulting in feelings of homesickness and alienation. Having experienced and survived the various components of a year abroad, I returned home with newfound strength, confidence, and self-understanding.
One experience in Paraguay has made an indelible impact on me. Three months into my stay, my host family brought home a seven year old girl. Her name was Camila. I vividly remember the first night I met her. She came from a family of twelve children and one mother who lived in poor conditions right outside the city where I lived. It was apparent that Camila was malnourished and had never been to school. She had never met anyone from outside of her town, let alone be aware that there was a country called the United States of America. It was not an official adoption, but my family knew this little girl needed the opportunity to go to school and live in a better environment. Throughout my stay, I watched her mature into a young girl full of energy, always ready to dance, always talking. I taught her English while she taught me Guarani. It was these moments that helped me understand the importance of generosity; to give without expecting anything in return–something my host family had ingrained in me. Because of Camila, I want to see other young women reach their full potential.
I am ecstatic to be partnered with The Budondo Intercultural Center, an organization focused on promoting an inclusive and healthy community for everyone. I believe there’s power in synergy: people working together, organizations working together, ideas and resolutions coming to fruition. I am committed to connecting with international communities to deliver sustainable solutions for the benefit of all; because together, we empower each other to achieve our full potential. Over the next nine months, I want nothing more than to work alongside local leaders in Budondo to strengthen their community and help young women like Camila accomplish their goals.
I am also excited to embark on this journey with all of you and engage in conversations with each of you so that we can work together to help the Budondo community thrive. I’d like to ask you to donate today and help make an impact in a young women’s life. Make a donation here.