I graduated from Marquette University with a degree in journalism and minor in international affairs. I’ve always been infatuated with travel, meeting new people and learning about cultures different than my own.
After graduation, I moved to rural Honduras where I spent 18 months volunteering at a children’s home called Amigos de Jesús. The children who live at the home come from unimaginable backgrounds; they have experienced hardships that, even as adults, most people will never experience in their lifetimes. For different reasons, the adults in their lives were not able to take care of them, so they came to be with us. They will grow up, go to school, learn, play and be loved at Amigos until they find a job, graduate college, or, -some children- will be at the home for forever.
My time there was life-giving, heart-breaking and profound. I fell in love with the children I lived with in a way I didn’t know was possible, was changed in ways I didn’t know I needed to be changed and learned more about the world in that short period of time than ever before. My last day at the home is one I will remember forever; it broke my heart to leave those children.
Upon returning to the U.S. I desperately wanted to continue work that was meaningful, that kept my perspective changing and that involved children. I found myself working at a residential facility in Chicago. The building housed children who had come into the country illegally and were detained at the border. As an unaccompanied minor in this country, you have certain rights, one of them being placed in a facility across the U.S. created specifically for children, like the one I worked at. Technically it was a detention center but one would never know from all of the colorful drawings, brightly decorated summer-camp-style bedrooms and cheerful staff.
My job was to speak with these children and their family members to locate and interview an adult in the U.S. with whom the child could live. I would present and recommend my findings to the government and if approved, the children would be united with their loved ones until a court date was set that would determine if they would be granted permission to stay in the U.S. or (more than likely) be deported. It was a whirlwind to say the least, but I was completely fascinated with the intricacies of immigration, especially children’s rights.
In both of these experiences I loved working with children on an international level. When I’m in situations that stretch my comfort zone and allow me to learn, I recognize growth in myself; something I constantly seek. Living in Honduras gifted me with the ability to learn another language and while I worked at the residential facility, about 80% of my day was spent speaking Spanish.
While I’m not sure just yet what my next job will look like I know it will be meaningful and fulfilling, allow me to travel and explore, and to make a difference in the world.