Thinking that it is 2020 already still impresses me. I turn back and realize it’s been two years now since my experience as an exchange student in the United States with the Global UGRAD Program and many things have changed since then.
In 2018, I came back to my country full of new ideas and motivation. After finishing my degree I decided it was time to get to know more about the social reality in my region, so I traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala to volunteer in community development and of course. I was received by my beloved fellow UGRADs in every country: Angie Zelaya, Emerson Bernal, Cecilia Soza, and José Galdámez. I could not help but feel a deep admiration for the other alumni once I got to know more about their achievements and challenges in their home countries. The Global UGRAD Program is definitely a global family. Thank you so much guys!
I realized the alumni network is so powerful when I returned to Nicaragua and I decided it was time to work for the local alumni network to meet other young leaders that pursued the same life-changing opportunities we had. I became involved with the Nicaraguan Alumni Association of the USA Programs (ANIUSA), and as member of the board of directors, we started to implement new ideas.
During the second semester of 2019 we visited six cities in Nicaragua to hold alumni networking sessions, mentoring talks and English conversation clubs for all type of alumni from all ages and scholarship programs. We also organized mentoring sessions for applying to the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) and other topics for the general public.
We closed the year with a very rewarding activity: Five generations of Global UGRAD hosting a mentoring session for undergraduate applicants! Theses Global UGRAD Alumni participated in the program in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018. They were:
We had a full house and with the support of the U.S. Embassy staff, we answered all type of inquiries and doubts for the next generation of Global UGRADs from Nicaragua.
Alumni are doing great things, changing the business and entrepreneurship world, participating in a vast variety of professional and academic fields, empowering minorities everywhere, etc. We must realize we share a lot with other alumni communities, and we must take advantage of this by creating and replicating opportunities and projects for us and the people around us.
Last year confirmed for me that even when we face challenges, we are all surrounded by amazing people who are working very hard in their own way to create a better world. This is confirmed every time that I learn of updates from my Global UGRAD fellows around the globe and I feel very thankful to be a part of this family. It’s just amazing how we remain connected across years and borders and the great impact each of us is making!
May this new year bring new opportunities for all of you. Keep connecting and changing your environments. We never know when or where we will meet again.
Written by Fabiola Castillo, 2017-2018, Nicaragua, Boise State University