The Vocation to Help Others

Luis performs on the guitar.
Photo credit to Luis Alfredo Morales Manzueta & Listin Diario.


Like many UGRADs, Luis Alfredo Morales Manzueta (Missouri State University) has a strong desire to give back to his community. For Luis, however, this community extends beyond his neighbors and peers at his home university in the Dominican Republic, and includes an often unrepresented portion of the population: persons with disabilities. Luis is visually impaired, but his blindness has not hindered his success as a music education student in the United States. He recently shared insight into his experience in the U.S. and his plans for the future with a popular local paper in Santo Domingo called Listin Diario

Continue reading for an English translation of Luis’s interview, or read the original text in Spanish.

What motivated you to participate in this program?

I had dreamed for a long time about going to the United States to study, and last summer I met a woman named Olga Yan who was a volunteer at the National Association for the Blind through the “United to Serve” program at the U.S. Embassy.

I spoke to her about my dreams, and she told me about this program and that we should look into it more, because she had a friend who had participated. So I motivated myself to take part in it because I thought it was time that my dream became reality and so, here I am.

What are you studying?

I study music with an emphasis on theory and music education.

What is the most difficult part of studying outside of your country in your condition?

First of all you must learn to orient yourself, or learn to navigate everywhere, adapting to the lifestyle – which is even harder when people do not speak your language; and of course you are not with your family and friends, but everything is manageable.

What is the advantage for those with your condition to studying in the United States?

You have all the necessary resources here so that you can easily carry out your studies. They give you many opportunities and amenities and they focus on your ability, not your disability.

Do you think you can apply what you have learned in the Dominican Republic with others who have your same condition?

Of course, this is why I wanted to come and study in the United States, to prepare myself and be able to help – especially people in my country with special needs; I want to receive a Masters in Special Education.

What does the Dominican Republic lack in order to help people with your condition develop their academics?

Creating awareness in all senses and valuing the abilities of those with disabilities, and creating more access to the education system.

What is your view on the celebration of Disability Awareness Week?

You must not only pay attention to those with disabilities one day a year, this should be something that is recognized every day, that yes, we are capable and productive human beings.

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