By Veronica Salazar
Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. (CBOB) works tirelessly to provide opportunities for children and youth affected by armed conflict and social injustice through education and empowerment. The Volunteer Internship Program (VIP) is essential to this initiative, as interns are responsible for much of the organization’s growth and success.
Being an intern at CBOB is unlike anywhere else; interns are treated as employees by encouraging independence and originality in a predominantly virtual sphere. With this type of structure, interns have the ability to work from anywhere, learn the ins and outs of an international non-profit, gain career-specific training, build a professional network, and more.
Now that the spring semester is coming to an end, we’d like to share what some of our interns have to say about their time being involved in VIP:
Amanda Gebelhoff (Creative Director):
“VIP has played a huge role in my professional and personal growth. I don't think I would be who I am today if it wasn't for CBOB and I'm so sad to leave this semester, but it is time for me to move on. I started out as a Graphic Design Intern who knew so little. I pushed myself to learn more and grow in my skills for CBOB and myself. I improved and expanded my scope on CBOB so much that I was promoted to Creative Director. I love my position in keeping the CBOB brand consistent and doing graphics for our larger events. I especially love interacting with other interns and helping them grow in their position. CBOB has always been a little family to me and I love all of the friends and connections I have made from being a CBOBer. I always recommend applying for a position with us to my friends or even people who ask me what I do for CBOB. Being part of VIP is a great experience for anyone looking to have a REAL job, not just getting coffee, and help run an organization that does truly inspiring and great things.”
Samira Amirova (Training Coordinator):
“VIP has been an investment for me. From careful decisions and insightful experiences, I couldn’t have enjoyed growing from any other organization. My past year in VIP has given me a mentor, practical skills, and well needed sass.” #RushCBOB
Nada Hussein (Student Chapter Coordinator):
“Through VIP, I have learned a lot about delayed gratification. Through the work that Children Beyond Our Borders does, you truly feel as though you are a part of something bigger than yourself. Though you do not see rewards of the work you do immediately, you know that someone will benefit from it tremendously. Working on the VIP team, I got to immerse myself in an environment where everyone you meet along the way is truly passionate about what they do!”
Jessie Stein (PR/Social Media):
“VIP has been a never ending learning experience. While I have learned countless new skills along the way, I have also learned how to strengthen skills I already had. The VIP experience taught me how to better manage my time to stay organized amongst the workload during hectic weeks. It also strengthened my skills working with a team and gave me more confidence in reaching out and asking questions when I needed help. I'm so grateful to have been given this opportunity and can't wait to incorporate these learning experiences in my career after graduation.”
Teagan Murphy (Campus Communications Liaison):
“So I've been with CBOB for 4 semesters and it has definitely helped me grow professionally. Many of the positions are entirely intern-run, so individuals could be assigned several important jobs. The experience I’ve gained has helped me move onto other positions and receive other opportunities. I applied for an internship at Southern Legal Counsel and they said I was the most experienced candidate they had because of the work I’ve done with CBOB. There’s so much room for growth while working with CBOB. I have watched several interns show their true potential and become promoted to positions such as Creative Director and Service Trip Director within one year of working for the organization. Supervisors are always looking for ways to improve the organization and listen to any ideas you might have. I proposed an idea to Andrea for a College Prep Mentoring Program for low-income high school students that has since taken off. I am now working on the program's development, and I was recently offered an official position as the Mentorship Coordinator. Overall, the VIP program provides an incredible opportunity for cultivating and demonstrating your potential.”
Sabrina Siegel (Graphic Design Intern):
“As a CBOB intern, I have been able to build my portfolio, meet passionate people, and work with a great organization. Because of this experience, I am a better designer and am more prepared for real client work.”
Joshua Everling (Fundraising Intern):
“I knew I had joined an awesome organization when I attended my first event. We traveled up to Alachua for a workshop with some children. The experience was incredible- I interacted with kids and CBOB members in a way that reshaped how I felt about my internship. I finally understood why everyone at CBOB cared so much about the organization. Once I knew why I was volunteering I felt that I had a responsibility to help CBOB become more involved in empowering children. I would consider my interns to be great friends and I will be sad to see my internship end. If I could say something to a prospective intern, it is to take every opportunity to go to events and fundraisers because they changed my whole world view.”
If you’re interested in joining our team, applications for our Summer Internship Program are now available!
Apply at chbob.org/apply. For more information about position descriptions, visit chbob.org/volunteer-internship-program. Applications are due April 9th.
What better way to work toward a healthier community than dancing?
By: Nancy Massani
Looking to dance the night away at Gainesville’s biggest night for salsa? If so, join us for our second annual salsa benefit, Dance for Good! It will take place tonight from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Bank Bar and Lounge in downtown Gainesville.
This event was started in 2016 by Dr. Brendan Williams and Dr. Diana Montoya-Williams to honor their wedding anniversary and their passion for giving back to the community. It serves as a chance to bring the salsa-loving community together in Gainesville for a good cause.
Attendees can participate in activities such as a one-hour salsa lesson from Salsa Mundial, a local Gainesville dance studio. A variety of popular latin music will follow by DJ Ocho from Baila Caliente, a salsa and bachata dance studio. Heavy Hors d’oeuvres will be provided by Omi’s Tavern.
Dance for Good serves as an opportunity to support programs of Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. Guests will have the chance to participate in a silent auction with items donated by several local businesses including University Air Center, Zen Vibe Yoga, The Spin, Gainesville Health and Fitness, First Magnitude Brewing Company and Mystery Bros. Escape Room.
Carolina De La Rosa, a University of Florida graduate who has been involved with CBOB for several years, attended the event last year and is looking forward to attending again and participating in the salsa class.
“I went to Dance for Good last year and had a great time! The food was delicious and it was great seeing people of all dance levels get on the dance floor and have a good time,” De La Rosa said.
Giving back to the community has always been a priority for Diana and Brendan. They are a part of UF Health and also serve on the Board of Directors for Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. Their journey with CBOB began a few years ago when they became IAMCBOB sponsors. Becoming sponsors served as an opportunity to fund a scholarship that allows students to fulfill their dreams of pursuing medical careers in Colombia. With the help of scholarships, children are granted opportunities to break free from the cycle of poverty and achieve their dreams.
In exchange, the students act as service leaders in their communities and stay motivated to work to their best and fullest capacity while in school. Sponsoring these children sends a message to them that they matter. It motivates them to become better citizens to their community and work to accomplish their dreams and goals. Today, Diana and Brendan are continuing to execute CBOB’s mission and give back to children and families affected by social injustice through funding local community health initiatives, such as the CWOB Mobile Health Clinics.
“Together we can make Gainesville a stronger community,” De La Rosa said. “This is one step toward doing that.”
Tickets can still be purchased in advance for $25 online at chbob.org/danceforgood until 4 p.m. today and at the door for $30! Reduced prices are available for students and residents. Put your dancing shoes on and see you there!
For more information about the event, visit www.chbob.org/danceforgood or http://www.chbob.org/salud-amor--more-scholarship-fund.html for more about Diana and Brendan’s story.
Are our classroom educators undervalued?
By: Nicholas Regueiro
“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” - Brad Henry
Have you ever had an educator inspire you? Educators hold the key to our future because they provide the building blocks for our youth. Our current youth is our future. The next issue to settle is - are educators undervalued?
Before I continue, I want to make clear I am not talking about the bureaucrat making decisions at D.C. I am representing the educators in classrooms that spends long days communicating why addition and subtraction is crucial to a person’s mathematical ability. In Florida, we work with the The Florida Department of Education which is the state education agency of Florida. It governs public education and manages funding and testing for local educational agencies. It is headquartered in the Turlington Building in Tallahassee.
Do students, bureaucrats, and parents appreciate the hard work our educators constantly put into improving Florida’s education ranking?
The state of Florida earned 28th place in a study that District of Columbia publishes every year in Education Week. The "Quality Counts" report was published in 2015. Florida was never ranked lower than 11th, and ranked as high as 5th. Educators are not given the appropriate resources to help educate our youth. A student’s future starts in the classroom. A good path to take when improving a school’s overall scores is to incorporate a more interactive learning experience. Funding learning technology in classrooms is pivotal.
On the opposite side of the education spectrum, Florida got the top ranking in the higher education department because of several championing reasons, including the relatively low tuition rates for colleges and universities. Higher education is accessible to those in need of assistance. Another factor that helped Florida earn its rank is the fact that students in Florida are more likely to finish degrees within two or three years. Timeliness when completing an education leads to a jump start on a person’s career.
What does all this data tell us?
Our elementary school education is lacking while our higher education is shining.The focus should be on allocating time and funds towards improving elementary school education because that is where a student’s future begins.
By: Jessie Stein
Bound For Peace (BFP) is a service trip program that sends dedicated volunteers to develop workshops for those in need in Latin America. The workshops are meant to better the lives of the kids we work with, as well as better the lives of the volunteers who participate in this incredible service trip. The interactive and educational workshops that we create help strengthen the emotional and social support of youth affected by armed conflict and social injustices. The volunteers on BFP strive to empower and encourage these kids with education and support to help better the lives of kids affected, as well as their own.
To begin, there are multiple trips offered throughout the year for interested individuals to partake in. Students are typically sent over spring break and the summer so it does not interfere with their education. During their time away, volunteers work hard to develop critical reflection and effective communication skills to better facilitate different workshops. Volunteers are also exposed to the country’s culture through different excursions, festivals, events, and more. The trip allows for volunteers to help underprivileged youth, while exploring and understanding the city they have traveled to. It’s extremely important for our volunteers to see a world different than our own, to better understand the hardships these kids are affected by.
Furthermore, we strive to support the development of volunteers so they can further their careers and lives to continue social justice work in whatever they do. Laura Andrea Molinares was a volunteer at our Cartagena trip in 2015, and this trip truly hit home for her since she was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. “Growing up, I witnessed how many people live in impoverished conditions. It wasn’t until I was getting older that I realized the huge gap among socioeconomic classes and how fortunate I was to have the opportunities that I do. The future of my country is my passion, empowering my people to create a better future is something I would love to partake in. Cartagena is close to home and I feel like these are my people and I should help them.” Today, up to one hundred volunteers have traveled with CBOB to Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Colombia since the start of this program. Our focus is to empower these kids and the community through our workshops, while also empowering our volunteers.
In addition, our mission is to support the identity, relational and academic development of youth in Latin America. We train our volunteers extensively before their trips in order to teach them how to create and facilitate these workshops, and to learn effective interpersonal communication skills with fellow volunteers and children. To deepen the volunteers understanding of the city and country, volunteers are trained on the social issues that affect youth in Latin America, such as socioeconomic status, inclusivity of different identities, and cultural awareness and respect. One of our volunteers, Andrea Gonzalez, had the opportunity to travel to Managua, Nicaragua, where she had an incredible experience with the kids we help. “I absolutely loved getting to know the students and everyone involved in the process, really. Realizing the potential of all the students was so eye-opening and actually getting through to them was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Our students want so much for themselves and it was by far one of the most inspiring weeks of my life experiencing that.” We pride ourselves on the children and how impacting their lives, can also better our own. This trip allows for kids to change their future through the encouragement and empowerment in our workshops. Watching them grow in the right direction allows for all of our volunteers to grow as well.
BFP is an incredible service trip aimed at helping youth affected by various conflict and social injustices in Latin America. The dedicated volunteers who participate in these service trips create empowering workshops to educate the kids and help with their overall development and growth. One of our CBOBers, Shanquell Dixon, went on the spring break Cartagena trip last year and is preparing to leave for it again in a few short days! In preparation for the upcoming trip, Shanquell stated, “Now that I am heading back there in a few weeks, and playing a bigger role in this Bound for Peace trip I hope that I can help others have a similar--if not better experience than I did. Lastly, I can't wait to be back with my Colombian friends, and family once again!” We are so eager and excited to see all the good our volunteers do for others, as well as what they learn within themselves.
In their second blog update, our Empowerment through English Initiative (EEI) teachers Anna and Samantha share some of their experiences from their past six weeks in Medellín.
Hello from beautiful Medellín, Colombia!
We are excited to officially share a little bit of our life here with all of our CBOB family. It seems impossible that it’s only been six weeks since we first arrived in the city of eternal spring, but we have been extremely busy getting to know our new home, the foundation and, of course, the wonderful scholars!
Currently, we are teaching English twice a week to the girls at the hogar and the rest of our time is dedicated to working with each of the scholars. Aside from that, we are busy doing research for the IAMCBOB program as well as for the Bound For Peace service trips. It is safe to say that we have been learning something new every day that we are here.
There are two groups of girls we work with at the hogar twice a week. Our first group in the morning are 20 energetic, silly, and excited little ones ranging from ages 5 - 10. We have been working with them on learning and mastering the English alphabet, colors, numbers, introductory phrases, states of emotion and much more. This group loves to learn songs in English, play games, and do puzzles! They are learning so much so quickly and especially enjoy when we get to simultaneously do art projects and learn English at the same time!
In the afternoon we have 11 older girls ranging from age 11 - 16 who are all so wonderfully unique and fun to work with in their own way. Our biggest goal with them is to work on establishing a strong foundation in English. In their regular school classes they are already learning basic English concepts. We’ve been able to help them to start making sense of the language, and have been challenging them with grammar, new vocabulary and listening and speaking practice. While we have several goals for our work with them, we are hoping that by the end of our time they will have the confidence to speak in full sentences, and be able to express what they think and how they feel. If nothing else, we are hoping that this prepares them for their English classes in schoolt. We love teaching them lyrics to songs they already know in English and helping them realize that they can master basic grammar if they try!
The past six weeks have been a wonderful combination of familiarizing the girls with the English language and building their confidence in a second language. They are, slowly but surely, realizing that it’s possible to understand and communicate with someone whose native language is different, even if it’s difficult! But it’s been so much more than that. We’ve been focusing our efforts on how we can intentionally build community with them - how we can support them, love them and establish a solid rapport with not only the girls, but with their caretakers, the professor and nuns that take care of them. We know how lucky we are to be so welcomed by them, and we feel that they are teaching us so much about ourselves. We are so excited to see how much they’ve learned by May, and the bar has already been set so high.
The four scholars, or as we like to call them our little brothers, have been the biggest blessing since arriving to Medellín! We’re fortunate enough that we get to spend time with them individually and as a group every week. Each of them has their own work style, their own dreams, and their own ways of looking at the world. As much as we’ve served as mentors to them during our time here, they have given us, and each other, so much back in return. We’ve grown to understand how each of them serves as a piece of the larger puzzle that is CBOB - they have shown us that their passion and dedication for the program is unwavering, despite any obstacles that they might encounter. We spend our CBOB time with them talking about goals, talking about ways we want to improve ourselves, and the city that we all love. We also have been practicing English with each of them, and they all are improving so much every time we meet! To say we are proud of them is a huge understatement!
We’re also excited to announce that as a team, the six of us, with the help of the Board of Directors, have been working diligently on interviewing potential new scholars here in Medellín. We are all looking forward to having a new brother or sister on our team.
In our opinion, the only way to really know your new home is to actively seek out and understand the people who call themselves natives, or in the case of Medellín, Paisas. One of the best parts of our experience here so far has been getting to know each of the scholar’s families. They have all been incredible hosts taking us to their homes, introducing us to their community and their neighborhoods, and in general sharing a huge part of their lives with us. It is without question that they have made us feel like a part of their family from the minute we arrived. Being able to understand their lives outside of CBOB and school has been an amazing opportunity that we have definitely not taken for granted.
With the two months that follow we are excited to see the girls improve their English, see our goals with each of the scholars play out, and ultimately find a new scholar! We fully anticipate new experiences, new surprises and, of course, new challenges that every great CBOB opportunity always brings.
With lots of CBOB love,
Anna & Samantha