“I’m an Asian-infused German-Colombian cocktail with American Accents”

I love to travel. I love to learn about people, cultures, languages and lifestyles. I carry with me the habits and customs that I have learned and enjoyed. I don’t embody a single identity, I do not have a single home. I’m in the pursuit of finding what is best for me and helping others do the same. In short, I just want to be present and see and experience as much as I can.

After two years of navigating blindly, returning to this one document that I wrote my senior year in high school, reminds me of what I want to do and why.  I will post as much as I can offer on civic engagement possibilities, lifestyle tips that I have learned around the world. I also want to showcase other people’s recommendations. Please feel free to comment! This is meant to serve as a dialogue. 

Bringing it back:

I was on my way to school two months ago when I noticed two scrawny Indian girls with dust-blackened faces, tangled hair, threadbare clothes and egg-white smiles beyond my car’s tinted window. They were a familiar sight on my way to school, but that day I felt strangely envious of their freedom. How was it that two impoverished girls in the middle of the streets looked to me as if they were freer than an expatriate in a chauffeured-driven car?

As a seventeen year old Colombian-German living in Delhi, I have the ability to plead indifference on local issues because I’m but a guest in the country. Still, it would be a careless, ignorant notion. Not a day in my life have I worried about finding a bridge to sleep under, or a chapatti to partake of, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care. The degree of poverty in India is overwhelming; it can make anyone feel helpless, but for exactly one year now I’ve worked with Hope.

Hope Foundation Chennai runs orphanages for HIV positive children and runs local schools for slum kids. With my school peers, I traveled to Chennai in October 2007 and taught forty of the three hundred fifty slum children at a local school English, I played with twenty of the HIV positive orphans and visited a local leprosy colony in the outskirts of Chennai to see a little further into their lives. From here in Delhi, together with my peers, I’ve hosted fundraisers like ‘Month of Hope’ and awareness campaigns for HIV/AIDS like “Week of Hope” in an effort to improve the situation. In just three months, my school community managed to donate Rs 60,000 for the construction of a brand new school in Chennai, one that would accommodate eight hundred students, five hundred more than the current capacity. Although the contribution was a mere US$ 1,500, with our aid, the first phase of construction has begun.

If I could, I’d eradicate poverty, I would personally donate the two million dollars needed to construct the whole school, but I can’t, I don’t have the means, not yet. For now I have to focus on IB, SAT I, SAT II, college applications and everything in between in the hopes that I will succeed.

I envied the two girls because I felt trapped. My mind was reeling and I longed for a fleeting moment the naïveté of a child, of those two girls.

The two Indian girls may not have to sit a five-hour exam, or confront the direct challenges of the digital world, but they are caged within this country, within their life and lack of opportunity. I’m bound now, but in college, will hopefully find the proper resources, the experience and knowledge to evoke hope in more than just my parents or myself.

I’m a small girl, I’m positive I’ll remain short but I refuse to let my experience go to waste. I was raised in developing Asian nations not to turn a blind eye, but to understand what lies ahead of me. I don’t know how to obliterate HIV/AIDS, cut corruption at the root or wipe out poverty. I might never know, but of one thing I am certain, I’m prepared to try.

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