I’d like to introduce myself as Dos Pueblos’ new Development & Communications Intern! I’ll be working with Lupe, Helen, and the Board over the summer months on grant applications and appeals, as well as outreach and social media (perhaps you’ve already seen our new Twitter account!) and anything else they may need as Dos Pueblos works to extend its great work to new communities.
A little about me: I’m an International Development student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, as well as a journalist and yoga instructor. The story of my passion for international development may sound familiar to many of you: it all began in Nicaragua.
When I was fourteen, I went down to Nicaragua on a service trip with Bridges to Community, an organization very similar to Dos Pueblos. Working alongside a team of Nicaraguan masons and community members, my group built two houses and laid pipes for the organization’s new water project.
It was an experience like no other. The poverty that I saw there shook me to my very core, and I couldn’t imagine leaving the people I had come to love so much. I felt inspired and discouraged all at once: by the end of the week, two families had safe, sturdy, and secure homes which they could proudly claim as their own, a huge improvement to their standard of living. And yet, these homes were probably only a bit larger than my bedroom, and there were thousands of families who still lacked proper housing.
The culture shock I felt upon my return was also daunting, as the next night I attended an extravagant, over-the-top sweet sixteen. To say I was horribly disappointed and disillusioned with my peers would be an understatement. Over time, however, I came to see alternatives to such cynicism. I told as many people as I could about my trip to Nicaragua, trying to communicate just a fraction of what I had seen and experienced there.
And I kept going back. Over the next four years, I went to Nicaragua six times, working alongside familiar faces and learning something new every time. In my junior year of high school I even led one of the trips myself.
My experience with Bridges to Community was a wonderful introduction to sustainable development. Local committees dictated community needs, local people were empowered to start their own businesses and projects through microfinance, and through cross-cultural exchanges volunteers were inspired to promote change in their own communities at home. In short, it was about solidarity, not charity.
It is because of these qualities – sustainability, community ownership, and collaboration – and the people who believe in them so strongly, that I was drawn to Dos Pueblos. My first day on the job was the day of the Spring Fundraiser, and the mixture of passion, solidarity, and joy in the room was infectious. I look forward to learning more about Dos Pueblos’ great work over the next few months, and to getting to know many of you better, whether online through blog posts and social media or in person.
That’s all for now—you’ll hear from me soon!