Since Sunday, December 15th of 2019, the date I “concluded” my participation in the Global UGRAD Program at American University in D.C., life has been a roller coaster of emotions. I mention “concluded” inside quotation marks because I truly believe that when someone becomes a Global UGRAD, they will forever be a Global UGRAD. After the program I came back to Guatemala, my home country, inspired by every single person that I met, energized by the beautiful moments I spent during the semester and End of Program Summit, and humbled by such a life-changing experience.
Life circumstances made me stay away from college during my first semester of 2020, and the pandemic, as I am sure for everyone who is reading this, has left quite some significant lessons: areas for improvement, things to celebrate, and the importance of living every single day as if it is my last one on this earth. But talking about earth, we all know the necessities our communities have regarding environmental preservation, ecosystems conservation, and equality for everyone.
And after all, we are fortunate to live every single day, and we have to be thankful for what we have. I have been fortunate to coordinate a project in my community called “Friendly Streets” (Calles Amigables), in a quest to ensure pedestrian-friendly spaces despite the number of cars on the streets. Through this project we are looking to have impact beyond just the implementation of crosswalks. We are looking to impact the community’s culture, promote respect among drivers and pedestrians, and reduce the fuel emissions by incentivizing health through walking instead of driving.
In addition to this project that I started this past August with four colleagues, after quite a complex process, I was selected and blessed with a position to work at the United States Embassy in Guatemala. Four years ago, I decided to study in a field that allowed me to serve before being served, and now I have an incredible opportunity which I did not obtain alone, my family was part of it, and each and every one of the Global UGRAD alumni and World Learning advisors was a part of it, because you changed my life and became an important part of it. I remember you all dearly, your friendly neighbor, Raul.
Raul del Valle, Guatemala, Global UGRAD 2019-2020, American University