BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE…
In the spring of 2014, Dr. Vazquez had the wonderful honor of receiving a dinner invitation from her former 5th grade student, Marcela Osorio. At the time, this young woman was a pre-med undergraduate student at Williams College. Marcela prefaced the invitation by stating that she had some amazing news to share with her former elementary school teacher. Dr. Vazquez’s heart melted when Marcela declared her vision for positive social change, and how Marcela received a grant from the Davis Peace Foundation to fund her project!!
What truly touched Dr. Vazquez’s heart was when Marcela confessed that her former teacher’s research inspired her to try to make a difference too! As a proud Latina scholar, Marcela mentioned how she followed Dr. Vazquez’s research blog and how Marcela was always curious about finding a way to make a difference in her parents’ home country of Colombia. As a child, Marcela enjoyed many summer visits. It was evident that Marcela strongly identified with her Colombian roots. Dr. Vazquez’s heart swelled with pride knowing that this beautiful and inspirational young woman was now going to make a tremendous impact on the lives of those impoverished and at-risk children in her family’s town of Cartago, Colombia.
MARCELA’S PROJECT: “MENTES BRILLANTES”
During the summer of 2014, Marcela Osorio was able to open an after-school arts center in Cartago, Colombia called Mentes Brillantes (Brilliant Minds). This wonderful endeavor was initially funded with a competitive grant that she acquired from the prestigious “Davis Projects for Peace” Foundation. Marcela and a dedicated team of volunteers renovated an abandoned house and transformed it into an after-school arts center in Cartago, Colombia. The after-school arts center is called Mentes Brillantes, which means “Brilliant Minds” in Spanish. It targets severely at-risk children and adolescents from the Carlos Holmes barrio.
In the after-school arts center, the students receive help with their homework from volunteering high school and college students, and also learn artistic skills such as dance, vocal lessons, drawing, theater, arts and crafts, and others.
Currently, Mentes Brillantes operates between the hours of 9-11 AM for children who go to school in the afternoon and between 3-5 PM for children who go to school in the morning. Around ten children attend each session. The first hour is spent doing homework and the second hour is spent learning a new artistic skill. There is definitely a future for this project. Marcela Osorio is in contact once a week with the two women who are in charge of Mentes Brillantes and they express both excitement and encouragement about creating a governing board, finding sponsors, and continuing to figure out more ways to provide more children from Carlos Holmes barrio the services that this grassroots organization offers.
Peace is when you feel physically, psychologically, and mentally safe enough to be exactly who you are, to grow, to learn, and to thrive. The Mentes Brillantes project will contribute to peace because it will provide children with a safe space in the midst of an unsafe environment. The children of the Carlos Holmes barrio will learn new skills and improve in school. They may also discover talents in arts or academic subjects that they may not have realized they had because they did not have the tools to discover them. Through academic achievement as well as a newfound artistic appreciation, new doors will open for these children. These new opportunities offered by Mentes Brillantes, which hopefully more students will take advantage of, can help lead these students away from dangerous habits and living conditions. In the long term, the more children who walk into Mentes Brillantes, the more children who will be able to develop alternatives to prostitution and selling drugs as a way to get by in the world. By providing peaceful options to risky habits, the whole neighborhood can change for the better.
THANK YOU MARCELA FOR YOUR INSPIRATIONAL STORY!!!!
LET’S CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THIS LATINA HUMANITARIAN…
PLEASE VISIT HER FUNDRAISING WEBSITE TO SEE HOW YOU CAN HELP MARCELA CONTINUE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
VISIT THE FUNDRAISING WEBSITE: http://www.gofundme.com/jljevg
On behalf of the executive board for Social Changers without Borders Dr. Vazquez had the great honor of presenting Marcela Osorio with a Humanitarian Recognition Award for Marcela’s dedication to the children of Colombia.