For those of you who don’t know me, I am a free-spirited adventurer who was born in Berkeley, raised in the rural countryside of southwest Wisconsin by two loving parents, and after many trips across boarders and seas, have found my way back to the west coast to settle (for now) in “The City by the Bay” – San Francisco.
This year has been a time of uncertainty and growth for me. Since moving here almost three and a half years ago, my life feels like an endless roller-coaster of exciting adventures. I have been meeting incredible people, exploring new things, and enjoying life. Life is good, but I kept hearing a voice in my head asking if this was really enough. Was I being fulfilled and challenged? Was I constantly striving to learn new things? What did the future look like if I continued working in the service industry that seemed so hard to get out of? There was something missing but I didn’t know how to take the next step.
In February I took a trip to Central and South America. This trip started out being planned for one month and turned into two and a half. Traveling, being forced out of my comfort zone, meeting new people with wide ranging views of the world, new customs, food, and music. Traveling has always stimulated deep thought and inspiration for me, and I hoped it would help guide me to a new path.
Over four years ago, just after graduating college with degrees in International Studies and Spanish, I decided to teach English for a year in Thailand. I met other teachers and travelers who unbeknownst to me would become some of my best friends to this day. One of these friends was a major influence in my decision to more to San Francisco, and now she and another friend work for Mama Hope.
In June I applied to become an advocate for Mama Hope and was chosen! The first training activity was to attend a fundraising boot-camp outside of Atlanta with the ladies from Mama Hope, Glorious, and three other Global advocates from around the world. There we learned lessons not only in international development and fundraising, but also on solidarity, vulnerability, public speaking, and how to end “poverty porn.” The biggest question was not “what” or “how,” but “WHY.” Why are we doing the work we’re doing? Why is it important to us, and why is it important to the communities we work with?
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” –Simon Sinak
Ever since I can remember I have loved learning about different cultures and connecting with other human beings. Our differences make life more interesting and finding connections in these differences draw us to one another. Being led by love will always lead you down the right path. As a woman I feel the need to nurture and teach—to spread my energy through love.
Now I have a chance to be an advocate for Mama Hope and Glorious in Guatemala through the partnership with Ingrid, a woman who has built up a holistic educational center and established the organization known as Fundacion Poulias|La Sonrisa del Nino.
When I first traveled to Guatemala 10 years ago, I immediately felt a strong connection to the people and communities there. Five years later I designed my undergraduate honors thesis so I could return to these communities and learn more about their sustainable community development projects. I listened to stories from returned refugees and ex-guerrillas. They were stories of pain and suffering, but also strength and hope. Seeing what can be accomplished when communities work together is uplifting, and after hearing about the project Ingrid is working on I am so excited to be a part of it. This holistic education center will create a safe place for children to learn and become agents of change in their communities. I cannot wait to see what type of projects we will be working on and how it will impact the children and the community!
Like many young Americans, I grew up in a community where having access to quality education was never in question. My parents moved to rural Wisconsin in order to send me to a Waldorf school they had chosen because they felt strongly about holistic education. I believe that every child should have access to education, and that every child can become an agent of change in their communities if they are provided with the right resources and support. During my travels I have seen first hand the way that cared-for, energetic and happy kids can positively impact the character and future of a community. A classroom is more than just a learning environment, when a child is given the opportunity to develop as a whole, intellectually and emotionally, they will grow into motivated adults who give back to the people around them and help their community grow, develop, and evolve.