10 years ago…
Hello world!!! This year is my 10th anniversary from finishing high school and going abroad for the first time.
Specially, I remember well…. 10 years ago I openly shared my experience about my trip in an online blog for the very first time.
Why is this so special?
Let me share my journey :)
I was selected, with other 14 young Bolivian, to be part of the educational and intercultural exchange program called: Youth Ambassadors!
Partners of the Americas and the US Department of State in association with the CBAs in Bolivia (Centro Boliviano Americano) were running this program in Bolivia for the first time.
This program took 15 young Bolivians with 2 adults to the US for 2 weeks. We stayed in Washington, DC for a couple of days so to learn more about the NGO “Partners of the Americas” and its mission and colaboration with Latin-American countries and also get to know other institutions that work with youth volunteerism.
We also visited important monuments, museums, and universities. I really enjoyed this time, I loved learning from another culture and learning more about my own country as well, through the other participants.
Note: By the time I was selected for this program, I was living in Sucre, Bolivia. I am greatly thankful to CBA Sucre and team Partners Bolivia-Utah, who were always there supporting the process.
I really like Washington, DC. It is like an open museum. It has lots of historical places, that reminded me to my hometown.
It was my first time in such a different environment and opportunity to practice English full time.
I loved the Smithsonian museums sooo much.
I learned many things about youth organization, studying in the US, other young volunteers in Latin-America and… DC time! (Always show up 5 minutes before the set up time! Very polite!)(I still need to practice that S=)
It was also, the very first time I shared my experience online. The cool Partners team asked us if we would like to share our “daily journey” online so to motivate other people (it was only once or twice while we were there). I was in!!! I just shared how my day looked like, what I learned and did.
It’s really funny that I was not seeing myself as a blogger then, but that once life sharing experience was a good starting :D
After a couple of days in DC, my group was divided into 3 small teams. My team went to Utah to live with a host family, attend to high school and volunteer.
I stayed with a lovely family in Provo, Utah. The host mom was from Bolivia :D. Her kids were really into basketball matches! I enjoyed supporting Utah Jazz!
I only attended one day to Provo High school with my host sister. That place was so big and so different to my idea of school. I enjoyed some art and political class, but I did not miss a tour around the science laboratories, just amazing!. And the same day, we were helping as volunteers during lunch time, special menu: pizza!
As part of being in a host family, I went with them to a Sunday morning mormon service. There are a lot of mormon people in Utah and in Salt Lake city they have a beautiful church.
By the time, I was there we celebrated the “Mom’s day”. It was really special for me to feel part of it.
After our local exploration, the whole team was reunited in Washington, DC. We all had amazing stories to share… how does it look like to live with an American family? how are schools in the US? why was so hard to understand other teenagers speaking English?
We shared some highlights from our experience and started working on planning project that we can apply when we were back to Bolivia.
Last day in the US was sooo sad! We were going to miss Partner stuff sooo much but they were already getting ready for receiving other young team: Nicaragua. I really admire their work and organization.
Just to share: I keep in touch with most of those youth! Actually, since then I kept an amazing friendship with Ana! “Happy 10 years friendship anniversary =)”! and also, I met most of the other alumni in different events and we are nice friends.
This really was… a life changing experience! I learned to be open minded! To share my experiences, to learn from others, to be more tolerant, to be learn more (e.d.), to create more opportunities not only for me but also for others, and… this was only a beginning…!
By then in Bolivia, we had 2 teams that went to the US as “Youth ambassadors”. It was like travelling again when I heard so many stories and experiences.
We, all alumni, hold a meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia supported by the local team Partners in America chapters in Bolivia (3 chapters), CBAs in Bolivia and Partners in DC.
We presented different projects (everyone had so many great ideas!). By the end of that working weekend, we decided to implement an education environmental project in the whole country (each small group in their city). It was the beginning of “Raices Limpias” (Clean roots) to be implement in 2009.
By 2008, I was living in Cochabamba, because of university and I joined the local team there to work!
First ever Youth Ambassadors Summit. It was amazingly shocking to be part of the Bolivian team to attend this summit where former Youth Ambassadors from all Latin-America gathered together with one dream: An international youth network for leaders and volunteers.
I learned so much about Latin America and these amazing youth and their volunteering projects and lifes. I am so blessed to have met them all. Nowadays, we are still in contact and we still share a lot.
From this meeting, we had a Main Council that would work in stablishing the organization, we decided to work in five regions and start motiving all alumni to connect. Our beloved IYAN (International Youth Ambassadors Network).
Nowadays, I am involved in the Communications team, with my Colombian fellows.
IYAN in the 2nd Volunteering Summit. I loved attending to this summit, meeting other enthusiastic volunteers and spread knowledge and experiences and mainly share with others: IYAN
Outcomes from this Summit: RED2021! See you in 10 years my friends.
Again, Partners of the Americas had a great performance! I just loved how that passionate people work and motivate others.
There are so many stories to share… incredibly every year we have something going on! In this blog, I wanted to highlight mainly what happened 10 years agooo! But, let me share some pictures about things that have being going around =D
LDPS — La Pandilla de Santa (Santa’s gang) Peruvian fellows worked almost the whole year collecting resources and volunteers to bring a different Christmass to kids in a very remote area, small town, close to Trujillo, Peru.
Partners of the Americas 50 years anniversary. Congrats Partners you have impacted so many lives through your projects! I am on of them! Keep going: Connect, Serve and Change lives
Projects and meetings in Bolivia
Gathering with local fellows, to work on a dream: Bolivian Youth Ambassadors Network.
Openly, I want to thank to all people who encourage me in this process, from the very beginning at the application moment to be a Youth Ambassador and to work harder on my English, to be a better student, to be open to new experiences and to love life in all its dimensions, to… keep dreaming and always keep it up!
People in Bolivia, at school, CBA, Partners local chapters, US Embassy in Bolivia, US alumni in Bolivia, friends and specially my family.
People from Partners of the Americas and other friends in the US, how amazing experience is to meet you guys!
Fellows from Partners of the Americas in different programs… you rock guys! So much to learn from you.
Fellows Youth Ambassadors in Latin-America, I am so proud of you and the projects you are working on currently! Let’s meet up soon.
SO THANKFUL TO GOD, TO LET ME LIVE THIS EXPERIENCE AND SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE.
Each event (and maybe day) has a big story behind and there are so many things in between such as transitions, projects, trips, exchanges, etc! I hope some day to share about each experience! What I can say… keep dreaming!