Leading My Own Journey – by Zall, age 16
I know – usually you turn here looking for my reaction to some bizarre insect meal or the quirks of travelling with my parents, but in this newsletter I’m looking at the future.
It’s been eight years since my first trip to South-East Asia. I’ve interacted with a multitude of different cultures, eaten a plethora of things that some would consider inedible, and discovered parts of this world I never knew existed; eight years go by so fast. Now, having only a year left before going to college, I find myself upon the springboard of my own journey.
For quite some time, I have been searching for an appropriate volunteer program (much like my brother Ari experienced several years ago on his public service trip to Ghana), that would be independent, broad, and an experience that will change my life and more importantly, the lives of others around me. Eventually, I stumbled upon an incredible opportunity to do some volunteer work of my own. The “Amigos de las Americas” program has accepted me as a volunteer this upcoming summer in Cotopaxi, Ecuador in a mountainous, rural Kichwa community.
Amigos de las Americas is an international, non-profit organization that “empowers high school and college students to develop leadership skills and increase multi-cultural understanding through training and community service in Latin America.” I will be working in collaboration with PLAN and FEPP, two humanitarian organizations whose main goal is to improve the welfare of communities through the support and motivation of youth in less-developed countries, like Ecuador. I will be completely immersed in a Spanish and Kichwa-speaking community and living with a local family, and will be expected to develop, participate in, and even lead community service projects that best fit the needs of my specific community, such as repairing classrooms, building latrines, and engaging local youth in environmental health, gender equality, and human rights projects. My three years of high school Spanish are really going to be appreciated!