There are so many students who live and breathe the Nourish movement. These individuals devote themselves to not only their chapters and Nourish experience, but also to living a life helping others and changing our world. Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of our incredible students!
Wellesley College chapter member, Mariela Cruz, recently chose to delay her departure from her chapter’s partnership in Ecuador, staying behind to work within the community as a teacher’s assistant. Here’s what led her to make that decision:
When Mariela Cruz received a recruitment email from the the Nourish International chapter at Wellesley College, she knew it was an organization she wanted to be a part of. Wellesley partners with the Arajuno Road Project, an organization dedicated to expanding and enhancing educational opportunities for children living along the road between Puyo and the rural community of Arajuno in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Mariela had always been interested in teaching, and her own experience growing up in a rural part of Mexico gave her a unique understanding of the importance of education and the role it plays in helping children escape poverty.
Mariela spent the summer of 2016 as a intern with the chapter’s partner in Ecuador, developing a summer camp for local kids to help them celebrate their indigenous culture through local sports. The team also helped renovate an abandoned school to house ARP’s office. As her time in Ecuador was nearing a close, Mariela felt compelled to stay:
“These kids deserve the world, and education is such a vital part of their development. Because they are from the rural parts of Ecuador, they are underserved; yet, they are held to the same standards [as the other kids in Ecuador].”
She made the jump, and decided to delay her return to Wellesley. Mariela now serves under a local teacher, helping to teach kids English through a new multicultural literature program that works with students to develop English skills, while also preserving their cultural identity and strengthening their native language skills.
Mariela says her long term career goals have been shaped by her experience with Nourish and the Arajuno Road Project. She saw herself getting a PhD and teaching at the collegiate level, but after her work with ARP she says:
“To be here and have more of a close interaction with younger kids, maybe I want to spend more time in primary school teaching and maybe even spending more time abroad, maybe coming to Ecuador or maybe going back to Mexico and having a long term impact.”
She hopes that the work she is doing in Ecuador will have a long-term impact and eliminate future need for programs like this one. The goal is to train the students and local teachers to be independent leaders who take their education into their own hands:
“[I want to] reiterate how excited and privileged I feel to be here; we’re doing this because we want the organization to be sustainable and for the students to receive the best quality education… This shouldn’t be a forever thing.”
During her year working in the local school, Mariela will also coordinate Nourish planning from within ARP!
Connect with Mariela: LinkedIn
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