By Jennifer Nicholas
Children Beyond Our Borders Inc. hosted its third annual salsa benefit, Dance for Good, last Friday in downtown Gainesville.
Dance for Good all started back in 2016 by Board Members Dr. Brendan Williams and Dr. Diana Montoya-Williams. What began as an event to honor both their wedding anniversary and their passion for giving back to the community, has turned into a CBOB yearly tradition. It annually brings the salsa-loving community together in Gainesville for a great cause- all of the proceeds go straight back to CBOB’s local programs.
There was never a dull moment at this year’s Dance for Good. The night was filled with live music, dancing, delicious food, raffles and a silent auction. As soon as our guests walked in, they were immediately greeted with a variety of popular Latin music played by Elio Piedra, a talented local artist in Gainesville. No one wasted any time getting out on the dance floor and showing off their best dance moves.
With all that dancing, our guests worked up an appetite. Omi’s Elegant Catering was generous enough to donate a variety of delicious food to our event. Our guests couldn’t get enough of the plantains, chicken, rice, coconut shrimp and more!
While taking a break from dancing and eating, guests had a chance to bid on our silent auction items. All of the silent auction items were graciously donated to us by generous individuals and local businesses. Auction items ranged from gift baskets, to gift certificates, to admission tickets and specialized items. Salsa Mundial donated two group class certificates, Zen Vibe Yoga donated an in-home private yoga session, St. George Inn & Suites donated a two-night stay, the Lowry Park Zoo donated two admission tickets, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts donated tickets to the Nut Cracker, just to name a few!
We have our incredible event manager, Sonia Herrera, to thank for another amazing year of Dance for Good!
“All members of Children Beyond Our Borders worked together to make this event happen, even our members in Orlando,” Sonia said. “I’m super happy with how everything turned out. I think we had a really great turnout and everyone had a lot of fun.”
This event also would not have been possible without our wonderful development director, Valentina Betancur.
When asked about the event Valentina said, “Events in general are usually pretty hectic the day of and a lot of planning needs to go into them prior to the event date, so my development team really had to come together to make sure that the event turned out well. I have to say that it really came together in the end because everything looked amazing! My favorite part of the whole thing was the silent auction because we received a lot of cool donations for this event and it looked really nice when we set it up. Also, the food was absolutely delicious and I think our guests really appreciated it. Another thing that I absolutely loved to see was that everyone was having a really great time. Overall, it was a pretty tiring experience but it came together amazingly and I'm really happy that we were able to raise so much money for our local programs!”
Dance for Good was a huge success thanks to all of our donors, volunteers, and supporters. We could not have made the night such a success without the help from you all. Thank you to our donors who donated all of our amazing auction and raffle items. Thank you to all of our volunteers who donated their time and effort to ensure that the night ran smoothly. Thank you to all our supporters who bought tickets to the event and joined in on all the fun.
We cannot wait to see you all again next year for our fourth annual Dance for Good event!
by Allison Hoyle
I joined CBOB in 2007 after a friend from Sabor Latino, UF’s Latino Dance Team, mentioned it to me. I knew as soon as I met the executive team and the other volunteers it would be a life changing experience, but I had no idea at the time that CBOB would launch my career into non-profit education.
The children, of course, won me over. It was remarkable seeing their excitement and eagerness to come to our workshops every day after a full day of school. They advocated for their learning, and told us how they wanted to learn advanced math and to speak English. I would leave every day with letters and notes from the kids, and head home to prepare the lesson plan for the following day.
But it was really that first taste of teaching that hooked me. I loved the creativity of coming up with a lesson plan that would engage each child in the room in a slightly different way. I thoroughly enjoyed the rush of adrenaline I got from improvising if the lesson didn’t go quite according to plan. It’s electrifying to stand in front of a room of 60 energetic children and matching their energy in order to reach them. When you are finally able to make that connection and they learn something new, it feels amazing.
I joined CBOB because I was looking for community, but I truly learned about myself as an educator and as a leader. I found my way into the classroom after graduation. I started teaching elementary school with Teach For America and teaching in Overtown, Miami. Now I work as a Program Manager at Reading Partners, a national literacy organization that reaches about 1,000 students in New York City, and 11,000 nationally. I get to flex my teaching muscles and work with committed volunteers and educators that inspire me daily.
On the board of CBOB now, I am ecstatic to see how it has grown and increased its impact. It is wonderful hearing about hard-working volunteers going back to Cartagena and Medellin and the complex workshops they develop for the children.
Getting to know who's in charge and what motivates them here at CBOB
by Madelyn Brenner
Keeping track of all that goes on here at Children Beyond Our Borders is not an easy feat. There are meetings to schedule and attend, fundraisers to arrange, trips to plan, and everything in between. Read on to learn more about who keeps our nonprofit on track, and what inspired them to join our CBOB family.
Christina Mouttet, Creative Director
Christina Mouttet is a second-year student at the University of Florida majoring in public relations and minoring in real estate. She first got involved with CBOB last semester as a PR intern and this past semester got promoted to Creative Director. She has absolutely loved her experience with CBOB. Seeing the impact CBOB is making amazes her every day. While she loves the social media and advertising aspect of her job, her favorite part is when she gets to work directly with the kids. Attending workshops, health clinics and weekly tutoring are definite highlights for her.
She is originally from Miami, Florida but moved to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago when she was 15. She came to UF as an exploratory student but eventually decided on public relations because it was the perfect combination of journalism, advertising and marketing. After she graduates, she hopes to attend law school and work in corporate law. She also loves to travel and has been to almost 40 countries!
Julia Lasley, Service Trip Director
Julia chose CBOB because she wanted to explore ways to give
back to her new home in Orlando by using her background in and love for education and international service. She chose CBOB for its dedication to creating opportunities for kids and communities that need it the most. To her, CBOB is a vehicle for empowerment and global change, reminding her of a favorite quote of hers, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." She is originally from Cocoa Beach, Florida. After finishing high school, she attended FSU (Go Noles!) for her B.S. in International
Affairs. She served as a Teach for America Corps Member in
Jacksonville until 2016. This is currently her fourth year teaching middle school English and second year in graduate school at Lehigh University for her Master’s degree in International Education. Her future career goals include teaching abroad and/or working for a nonprofit in the field of international development with an emphasis on girls’ education.
Valentina Betancur, Development Director
Valentina Betancur is completing her third year at the University of Florida and should be graduating Spring term 2019. She is pursuing a dual degree in Economics and International Studies and two minors in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) and Food and Resource Economics. Her dream is to work for an international development agency in the future such as the World Bank. She started her journey with CBOB in the summer of 2017 as a fundraising intern and she came back for the same position during the fall semester. She was promoted to Development Director during that fall and now she leads four different teams of interns along with Gina Castano. Her duties consist of partnering with organizations in our community, planning various fundraising events, executing major fundraising benefits such as Dance for Good and Gala, and completing a 5-year plan for the organization. Her most important task is to be there for her team and make sure that they have everything that they need to build their skills.
On top of CBOB she also works part time in retail and takes classes full time. On her off time, she likes to play with her puppy Mia (pictured below), go out and eat sushi with her friends, or go to the pool with her roommate if it’s nice out.
CBOB's student chapters tutor children from underserved areas on a weekly basis.
by Jennifer Nicholas
Children Within Our Borders Inc. strives to make a change in the local communities of Alachua and Orlando by providing opportunities for the at-risk youth from these areas. One way CWOB does this is by providing weekly tutoring services to the children in both of these at-risk communities.
The tutoring services help the underserved children in the community with a variety of homework subjects. At tutoring, volunteers act as one-on-one tutors with the children to encourage them with homework completion and provide them with an empowering environment. The children that attend tutoring range in age from five to twelve years old.
CBOB’s tutors are committed and energetic individuals who volunteer their time to work with these children once a week. Iman White, a CWOB tutor who attends the University of Florida, described her experience of being a CWOB tutor as one of her favorite experiences at UF thus far.
“I really look forward to going to the church every Monday to see Jaime, the student I tutor, and all of the other children,” Iman said. “They get so excited to work with us, and it creates a really special environment. I help Jaime (her student) with whatever homework he has, but we usually focus on math in preparation for the FSA. Seeing him improve his skills and hearing from his mom that his grades have risen since tutoring began has been so rewarding, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him.”
Iman went on to describe one of her favorite memories as a Children Within Our Borders weekly tutoring.
“Jaime once told me that he really liked looking at things under a microscope, so one time after we finished all of his homework, we spent the rest of the session looking up pictures of everyday objects magnified under a microscope! He absolutely loved it, and that is probably my favorite memory with him. All in all, tutoring through CBOB has been such a valuable experience, and I look forward to continuing to do it for the rest of my time here at the University of Florida.”
Through Iman’s experiences, it is easy to see how tutoring is beneficial to both the students and the tutors. The children receive one-on-one assistance from the volunteers in order to help them with their school work, so they can better understand their subjects and succeed in school. The volunteers receive the satisfaction of lending a helping hand to those in need and seeing the positive impact they have on these children firsthand.
If you are interested in becoming a tutor for Children Within Our Borders, be sure to keep up with our social media to find out when applications next open!
March is the month of luck and CBOB takes a moment to reflect on everything we are lucky for.
by Christina Mouttet
Happy March and happy spring! This month is all about celebrating luck and welcoming in spring. As you can see pictured above, spring is time to enjoy the weather outside with good friends! It is so important that amongst our March St. Patrick's Day celebrations we take a moment to step back and be grateful for everything we are lucky to have.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of the death of the patron saint of Ireland in the fifth century. What started as a religious feast day in the 17th century has evolved into a variety of festivals around the world celebrating Irish culture with parades, lucky charms, music, dancing, and a newfound appreciation for the color green. Shamrocks, a symbol of Ireland, are associated with luck which is why luck is such a huge theme of this holiday.
So many things that we take for granted, like access to education and proper nutrition, are not available to many people around the world. Children especially, who have no power in bettering their situations, need our help.
These statistics are scary, but organizations like Children Beyond Our Borders Inc. are working to reduce these numbers to 0. It is times like this, surrounded by the energy of spring and festivities of St. Patrick’s Day, that we feel even more connected to our cause and the difference we are making in the lives of children. We believe that no child should be denied access to education and it our mission to provide these children with opportunities to find peace and prosperity with the proper educational tools.
Want to help? We ask that you make it our ~lucky~ day and donate to our cause! Visit www.chbob.org/donate to donate today!
Fun fact: For every “lucky” four-leaf clover there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers.
by Brianna Ferguson
Hello! My name is Brianna and this past spring break I was lucky enough to spend a week in the great city of Medellín. My experience was unforgettable because of the amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting. I was able to meet some of the scholars: Jose, Davian, Jason (Alex), Valentina, Luisa, and Andrea. They were each very pleasant and so interesting to interact with. The saddest part about the trip was having to leave the kids behind at the organization. Even right now, some of them are messaging me! The acceptance and positive reception that my group and I received from the scholars and the kids made this experience so amazing. This was my first time outside the country and I was never nervous or scared to be another country because I knew CBOB had our backs!
We taught workshops on teen pregnancy, values, and social media. Each workshop was my favorite because we were able to interact with the students and teach them valuable lessons. To see how excited they would become over the activities we planned was pretty heartwarming. It made me feel great, especially when they would come up after the workshops and ask us additional questions.
I encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in a trip to apply! The Medellin trip was so unforgettable that I already reapplied for another trip, and if that trip is even a fraction of the amount of fun I had, I will seek to go on at least one trip per year until I graduate :).
To see more of the Medellin trip, visit our instagram @iamcbob.
Check out a slideshow of pictures from her trip below!
By Jennifer Nicholas
For fifteen years, Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. has worked to bring hope and change to the lives of internally displaced children in Latin America. CBOB believes that every child deserves a proper education, regardless of social status, race, or gender. This is why CBOB created the IAMCBOB Scholarship Program. IAMCBOB provides an all-expenses-paid college education to motivated students who have a strong desire to acquire a higher level of education after graduating high school. The program empowers young leaders to be equipped for success and gives them the opportunity to have a proper college education. IAMCBOB students put forth their best effort in their school work, while also giving back to their communities by participating in civic engagement activities. IAMCBOB students act as both role models and service leaders to their communities.
On Wednesday, March 14th, Children Beyond Our Borders’ second IAMCBOB Scholar, Jose Martinez, will be graduating from college! Jose is one of CBOB’s internally displaced children who has been with the organization for over eight years. His CBOB family is so proud of all that he has already accomplished, and we are so excited to see what else his future has in store for him.
We interviewed Jose to find out about his time at college and what his plans are.
Q: “What area of study did you choose?”
Jose: “My specialty, or the area I’m most interested in, is electrical energy transport. Electrical energy transport caught my attention because, through this, I can make an impact on thousands of people in a positive way, generally those who cannot enjoy an electrical system with dignity and confidence.”
Q: “What was your favorite part about college?”
Jose: “My favorite part of university is the ability to discover new thoughts and ideas. I like being able to debate with my classmates and friends. On the other hand, I really liked the social networking and the amount of people I was able to meet throughout my years at university. One of my favorite memories is the satisfaction I feel finishing this semester. My days and nights of hard work were worth it. On the other hand, I remember the good times I shared with my friends and classmates, they were happy moments and have left me with many life lessons.”
Q: "What was the most important lesson you learned during your years in university?"
Jose: “The most important lesson I have learned (in university) was how to tolerate different opinions and respect ideas that I do not agree with. Overall, I learned to value every person and recognize that we are all part of a society and are all equally important.”
Q: "What are your plans for after graduation?"
Jose: “After graduation, I want to start developing a productive project, while at the same time I plan to learn English and learn different alternatives to study abroad in the near future. I would like to see new cultures and different ways of thinking.”
Children Beyond Our Borders is anxiously awaiting Jose’s graduation. He is an inspiration to all of us here at CBOB and we are so happy for him! Jose has a bright future ahead of him and we are so grateful for the opportunity to see him grow into the admirable young man he is today. Please consider making a one-time donation to www.chbob.org/iamcbob-scholarship, and we will give 100% of the proceeds towards Jose’s graduation present. For more information about our IAMCBOB Scholarship Program, visit www.chbob.org/iamcbob-scholarship.
by Madelyn Brenner
Sometimes it’s overlooked as a nuisance; others it seems too complicated to understand. But it is important to note and learn how helpful social media can be when running a business or even just trying to spread awareness. Just take the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Events, fundraisers, and marches have been organized solely using social media tools! It’s easy to make an impact when the world is at your fingertips! Here are some helpful hints that CBOB uses for how and why to use social media to your best advantage in order to be the most successful individual, as well as business, that you can be!
It’s more than just having an account. Many businesses open accounts solely to seem relevant, yet rarely post or update their followers. It’s better to not open a social media account until you’re fully ready to invest the time and energy into posting on a consistent basis with information relevant not only to your business, but also to your followers (Hudson). CBOB aims to post every single day on each of our accounts in order to best engage our followers.
Pictures are your friends! If you want to attract the attention of others it is key to use images in order to increase your chances of getting someone to share your post, which is the main way to increase your impact, which is the newest form of “word of mouth!” (Hudson). At CBOB, we try to add a picture to each of our posts in order to showcase what our events, fundraisers, and merchandise look like.
Validate your brand with your followers. 33% of customers have claimed social media as the number one factor in how they identify and select new brands and services. Over sixty percent of consumers with an online presence say they are more likely to choose a brand with an informative social media presence (Why you need…). We do our best to match our posts with the brand we aim to represent.
Respond quickly on your platforms. Whether it’s to messages, comments, or wall posts, it’s imperative that your social media presence is active and responds quickly to any concern expressed by a follower. Nearly three quarters of consumers who received a quick response on social media say they would recommend that brand to others, so checking actively and often can be crucial (Why you need…). CBOB tries to respond as quickly as possible to any concerns expressed.
Hone in on your community. Having a loyal following on social media creates a community that becomes a group in your corner. After establishing this base, you’ll be able to further expand the circle by inviting this group of followers to your events, and hoping they’ll do the same with their friends in order to merge circles (Fita). We try to invite anyone who has expressed interest in our organization to all of our events and ensure that they see all of our posts.
While these tips and tricks are more specific to business, you can also apply them to your personal accounts as well to make sure you’re representing yourself in the best possible way. These are just some ways CBOB has attempted to achieve success with our social media bases. Hopefully you enjoy our social media presence! Keep in touch with us and receive updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
by Marcus Leyva
Late last summer my uncle Noberto wrapped his prized fighting roosters in newspaper, stuffed them and the rest of his family into their 1955 Buick and drove 36 miles inland to Las Tunas, Cuba as a Category 5 Hurricane barreled directly towards their hometown on the coast. Thankfully, Noberto, the rest of my cousins and, most importantly, the roosters all survived the storm unharmed. They were fortunate that the damage was limited to property, but for my uncle and family it will takes years to restore normalcy (many streets in town are still torn and unusable from Hurricane Wilma in 2005). Life will move forward but it’s difficult not to reflect on the lack of economic mobility for most of my family and remember that, hurricanes aside, there is no clear economic path forward for most Cubans: the government dictates the market and most life choices with the threat of violence hanging over the head of anyone who thinks otherwise. Separated from my uncle by only a generation, I spent the duration of the storm in complete safety, with hot water and food readily available. To say I am a rare exception of economic mobility would be a gross understatement of reality. The probability of ending up where I am today is one in millions and there is no way I would be here today without the support of a loving family, strong mentorship and community throughout my life.
The lack of economic mobility is a common theme not only throughout Latin America, but within the United States as well. Throughout my academic and professional career working in financial services, the mobility gap has become more glaring every year as I realize real world considerations like applying for colleges, the financial aid process (including the labyrinth FAFSA), personal finances, tax planning, property ownership, applying for jobs (networking) and a number of commonplace life requirements in a first world country are all concepts almost foreign to many, including myself. There is no simple solution to issue of economic empowerment but there is no argument that access to education is a way forward.
CBOB has its roots in Colombia, and although I am not Colombian, the heart of CBOB’s mission resonates with me deeply and extends beyond Latin America. The mission of the organization is clear: education is the only clearly defined and sustainable route out of the cycle of impoverishment. I have witnessed firsthand how the organization has set about trying to chip away at the barriers to education as a Bound for Peace trip Volunteer in Medellin, as a trip volunteer, as a member of the student chapter at the University of Florida and now as a Board Member. Today I am proud to remain part of an organization with an intense focus on education and providing the tools and support needed to succeed against all odds. Together with our donors we are working to double our IAMCBOB scholar base by 2020 and parallel the same successes we have had abroad at home, providing tutoring, healthcare and comprehensive K-college mentorship for migrant students in Florida through the CWOB program. As we look ahead to the next ten years of CBOB’s future our team of dedicated volunteers and interns are emboldened and enthralled by the opportunity to continue to promote economic mobility through education at home and abroad.
by Christina Mouttet
Looking for a memorable, rewarding way to spend your summer? Join us as we travel to Quito, Ecuador this summer from August 4-19. During the week we focus on workshops with the youth, but the weekends are all about exploring the city. Check out this list of some of Quito’s highlights so you can better see why it is a MUST! (Excursions may vary)
1. You can visit Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World)
Mitad del Mundo is a national landmark located north of Quito, Ecuador. This monument is built on the site where the line of the equator was famously marked in 1736. You will get to stand with one foot in each half of the world!
2. TelefériQo (Quito’s awesome gondola lift!)
Quito’s Skyrail named in 2005 as the Teleférico, is the highest in South America. The ride takes about 10 minutes and offers a breathtaking view of the city and nearby Panecillo volcanic hill.
3. See the amazing views at Itchimbía
Itchimbía Park is located at the summit of Itchimbía hill. It is considered one of the most beautiful look out points in all of Quito.
4. Relax at Papallacta Hot Springs
Papallacta is famous for its hot springs known as the "Balneario Termas de Papallacta" or Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs. The source of the heat in the springs comes from the two volcanos it is situated between, the Cayambe and the Antisana.
5. Eat some delicious food
Popular dishes eaten in Ecuador include Ceviche (a mix of seafood and shellfish cooked in lime juice), arroz con pollo o camarones (rice with chicken or shrimp), and Choclo (dry roasted Andean corn that is sold by vendors on the streets).
6. La Basílica del Voto Nacional
Construction on this building began in 1883 but is still unfinished. A fun fact is that this building was inspired after Paris' Notre Dame!
Sign up for our Bound for Peace trip to Quito today! www.chbob.org/bfp