This edition of In My Experience is written by Global One to One board member Beatriz Valencia Reano.
“Unity does not mean sameness. It means oneness of purpose”– Priscilla Shree
I grew up in a place called San Andres, an island off the coast of Colombia, South America. Growing up I discovered a special treasure that I never knew had value until later in life. The treasure was M & M’s. For me, the many colors of the candy are like the many kinds of people that have come in and out of my life. They each gave me the unique opportunity to learn about people from other cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
Valuing people from all cultures is something very important to me, and I felt a calling to be part of an organization which closes the gap in multicultural communications. I was blessed to be invited to join the board of Directors of Global One to One in the Fall of 2016. Since then I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with different groups of visitors from many countries.
For example, during the summer of 2018 a group of high school student with the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program of World Learning came to Albuquerque. I was able to join them on a trip to visit the State Capitol in Santa Fe. I was amazed and impressed by their high-level thinking and the questions that these students asked our New Mexico legislators.
In the Spring of 2019 Global One to One hosted a delegation of education reform advocates from Ukraine with the Open World Leadership Program. I was honored to have them visit Hayes Middle School, where I work as the Community Schools Program Coordinator. I had the opportunity to share with them how our dual language Project-based Learning school engages families in school activities. They told me that they were very interested in bringing this idea home with them to Ukraine because it is not common there. The group was greatly impressed by how we love our community and the effort put into making our school a better place. We visited one of our after school clubs where the delegates shared delicious chocolates they had brought from Ukraine that our students ate quickly, and laughed as they explained the stories in the Dungeons and Dragons board game that they developed.
In the fall of 2018 we also had a delegation of Serbian English teachers visiting our International Club after school program for students with a second language and refugees from African countries. The Serbian teachers had many questions that day about what practices we have in our schools for students with English as their second language.
Over the years I have also been able to spend time with the students from Chile, Argentina, India and Colombia when they visited our city of Albuquerque.
One of my favorite experiences has been to read some of the pen pal letters exchanged between students from New Mexico with friends in Nepal and South Sudan.
These experiences are priceless and have helped me to grow my treasure bag of M & M’s that I share in many lives at the schools and my own.
This Christmas help to sponsor youth groups across the world to be connected because everyone needs to discover their treasure bag full of M & M’s: friends with diverse cultures, religions and backgrounds that have passion for building bridges of communication).
Hasta la vista mis amigos!