With the new school year comes a new beginning for teachers and students across the globe.
By: Micayla Kinder
It’s that time of year again... the time of year when store aisles are packed with families bustling to get the best quality lunch boxes, most fashionable backpacks, the healthiest snacks, and the sharpest pencils for their children to help ensure their success this school year. It’s the time of year when college students around the nation prepare for the new football season and load up on their college gear. Some students may dread it, others may look forward to it, but one things for certain: the back to school season is a time of new beginnings.
Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. Operations Director, Shana Call, is a University of Florida alumni and currently teaches high school in Orlando, Florida. Shana spoke briefly about what excites her about going back to school.
“My favorite part of the back to school season is the thought of a new beginning,” Shana said. “New teachers, new students, and new learning opportunities. No matter what kind of year you had last year this year is a chance to turn things around.”
As a teacher, Shana sees first hand how students react to being back in the classroom.
“I think most students initially are excited to see their friends but may be less excited about waking up early, getting back into a routine, and having homework,” Shana said. “I think it's important for kids to be excited about school and learning because keeping an open mind leads them down the road to undiscovered opportunities.”
Shana is not only a teacher but she is also a mom and believes that students should not only be do their best in school but also choose to have a character that is kind.
“As a mom I think the most important thing for kids to remember is to treat others how you want to be treated,” Shana said.
Shana is a teacher who works hard to ensure that her students learn everything they need to and excel in their academics.
“The best part of being back at school and teaching is all the opportunities I have to make connections with new students. My students are special and have unique needs and learning styles, my job is to find out how to reach them in the most effective and efficient way possible. This is the most interesting part of my job.”
Another person excited about the new school year is Children Beyond Our Borders Fundraising Intern, Valentina Betancur.
Valentina is a returning intern who is entering her Junior year at the University of Florida. Valentina is excited about both her new classes and all that the fall semester will bring.
“School in the fall is always more exciting than the other semesters for some reason,” Valentina said. “What I’m looking forward to the most this fall is just the energy and excitement that comes from the football games and Gator Growl and other school events.”
Valentina stated that she agrees with Shana about the fact that fall is a time of new beginnings.
“I think that my favorite part of fall semester is that since it’s a new year, you kind of get the opportunity to redefine yourself,” Valentina said. “You can join new clubs and organizations and explore to see what your interests are.”
Valentina is also excited about returning for another semester with Children Beyond Our Borders!
“I began as a fundraising in CBOB during the summer semester this year so this is my second semester as a fundraising intern for the organization,” Valentina said. “I’m looking forward to taking on some new responsibilities with my position since I’m more familiar and comfortable with CBOB now.”
From football games, to new teachers and new friends, it’s evident that the start of school year brings an abundance of new and exciting things. Children Beyond Our Borders would like to wish you luck as you head back to school! Remember to work hard, be yourself and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way!
by Karin Fazio
Since 2003, when Children Beyond Our Borders Inc.(CBOB) was founded by four University of Florida students, our organization has welcomed and said goodbye to many beloved individuals who impacted the organization in some shape or form. Although we excitedly welcome new groups of interns and volunteers each semester, we never forget our past members and their contributions to this organizations.. As much as we hate to see them depart, we know our CBOB family is off to achieve tremendous adventures and opportunities, impacting their communities along the way.
Dragana Tabakovic was involved with CBOB during Spring 2014 until Fall 2015 as part of the Volunteer Internship Program (VIP). Tabakovic spent her time with CBOB as the Volunteer Manager. For Tabakovic, the start of the second semester was a rewarding moment for her. With VIP being fairly new, Tabakovic got to see all the potential it held. By the following semester, she was able to watch as the program flourished, as it doubled in size and became much more diverse and successful.
“I originally started as a BFP (then Crossing Borders) volunteer in 2012. The experience completely shaped my college career and the friendships I maintained. Like most post-grads, I had a stint of lostness and didn't have much direction. VIP helped me guide my passion and transition after college, but also I found myself learning SO MUCH from the interns. They had a lot of different education and skill backgrounds and brought so much to the table,” Tabakovic said.
For any incoming interns, Tabakovic suggests to “use your time at CBOB wisely! There is an unlimited amount of little gems within the organization for everyone to tap into.”
Now, Tabakovic works as a family crisis manager at a local mental wellness organization that works with Baker Acts, people experiencing homelessness and families that are in a state of crisis. Tabakovic connects families to resources within the community, including resources our organization has, and gets them back on track to overcome whatever obstacles they may have (whether that be housing, childcare, utilities, rent, etc.).
Acacia Douglas went on three volunteer trips with CBOB, traveling to Medellin twice and attending the founding trip to Ecuador. Douglas was the Fundraising Coordinator for the UF chapter and explains CBOB as life changing for her. For her second trip, Douglas was given the opportunity to be a trip leader.
“Sharing my passion and love for CBOB with these new volunteers was an incredible feeling.” Douglas recounts her experience with the kids during her trip as indescribable. Despite the fact that she was not a fluent Spanish speaker, she was still able to connect with those around her and was impacted by the children she encountered.
“My experience with CBOB truly taught me love knows no language,” Douglas said. CBOB helped Douglas find her passion for education. For anyone going on a service trip, Douglas recommends to listen to the service trip leaders because they really work hard to provide the best training, trips, and experience.
“Know the reason you’re going! These trips will offer a chance to see and do things you never have before, but they are bonuses and a chance to see the culture of the country. If you go with an open mind and are ready to serve, you will have the most amazing and life changing experience of your life,” Douglas said.
Today, Douglas works with at-risk youth to help them go to college by providing them with a volunteer mentor and 2-year Florida prepaid scholarship. Douglas serves as their Student Advocate and college success coach. Some of her ‘Take Stock Scholars’ came out to one of our recent events in Alachua, the Back to School Bash.
“It felt so amazing to see my two favorite organizations come together and collaborate! My heart was so full!” Douglas says joyfully.
Catherine Phillips got involved with CBOB in 2014 through the Bound For Peace service trip. Even though Phillips did not have much knowledge about Colombia, she was eager to go when Tabakovic approached her about the trip. During her trip, Philips, along with many other volunteers, worked with roughly 100-120 children. While they were there, they taught workshops that focused on personal development and empowerment, as well as played countless games and activities.
“The two weeks I spent in Colombia are, to date, the best two weeks of my life. The amount of love and zest those kids have for life, in the midst of their environment, is inspiring,” explains Phillips.
To her surprise, Phillips went to change the lives of those children when in reality, they changed her. Phillips will never forget when she first drove up to the foundation with the other volunteers. While laughing, talking, and documenting their time through pictures and videos, Phillips explains the feeling of genuine excitement she could feel in the air on the bus. She will always remember the silence that shifted throughout the bus as they took in their surroundings of the Olaya Herrera Community and describes this moment as ‘extremely powerful.’ The volunteers got to see the environment, which helped them establish a deeper connection with the people they met. Phillips participated in two more trips after this one; no trip is the same, but they all brought the same feeling of fulfillment. Phillips formed lifelong relationships and unforgettable memories.
For anyone thinking of going on a BFP trip Phillips says, “It will be the single greatest decision you make this year. It is challenging yet rewarding experience, and I promise you will return home a changed person because of it.”
Phillips even says the language barrier can be daunting but the kids just want your affection and love. There’s also always a few volunteers who speak Spanish well. For anyone going on a trip:
“Live in the moment. Go with an open mind, be ready to learn and have fun! Enjoy every second that you have with children, eat as much food as you can, and just soak in the sunshine. Let the kids teach you the dances. Teach them games. Be present. There’s an indescribable feeling you receive when you go and share life with these children. I can’t explain it, but when you feel it, and you will, you will understand why I fell in love with city,” Phillips said.
Phillips now lives in California and, though she is not actively involved with CBOB, the CBOB motto and mission stays with her everywhere she goes. Since moving, Phillips has finished getting her Teaching English as a Foreign Language license and is now currently applying to teach abroad with the hopes to empower even more children.
As you can see, former CBOB members are accomplishing amazing things in their communities. To no surprise, they are continuing to impact lives in their communities, just as they did when they were involved with CBOB. We wish all of our alumni the best of luck with their future endeavors and cannot wait to see what they fulfill as they become positive leaders to others.
By: Melissa Moreno
Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. was founded on the principle that all children, no matter what social, political or economic problems their country is facing, should be provided with a proper education. We believe that education is equal to empowerment and that with an education, any child can achieve their dreams.
To date, CBOB has mentored and affected the lives of thousands of children and has even provided a college education for a few deserving students. The work that CBOB does with the Volunteer Internship Program, Children Within Our Borders, IAMCBOB Scholarship Program, Student Chapters and Bound for Peace Program would not be possible if it were not for the help and support our amazing sponsors.
The dedication of our sponsors has allowed us to do the work that we do and for that, Children Beyond Our Borders, Inc. and the children we serve are extremely grateful. Thank you for all that you do!
We would like to start off by thanking our partners and supporters in the United States. Thank you to:
Amazon Smile, Paradigm IT Group, Ana Echeverri and Associates, Mecatos Bakery and Cafe, Proyecto Somos Orlando by Hispanic Federation, HCCMO Leads Groups – East Orlando and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Metro Orlando.
Next, we’d like to thank our partner foundations in Latin America:
Fundación Granitos de Paz, Fabretto, Fundación Colombia Somos Todos – James Rodriguez, Feed and Fortify and Fundación Lazos Unidos.
We would also like to thank 7Sage LSAT Prep for all that they do.
Every year, CBOB holds its Gala where a silent auction is held and where items that are donated are sold to guests with the highest bid. Our donations from the silent auction are used to expand our classroom facilities and our programs. This year, we were lucky enough to receive donations from:
Busch Gardens, Alex & Ani, Crayola Experience – Orlando and Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
And of course, we would finally like to thank all of our recurring and one-time sponsors/donors who have contributed to this organization in one way or another. You have had a hand in improving the life of a child and we are so thankful for your help.
Next week another Bound For Peace trip will be taking place in Medellin, Colombia!
By: Micayla Kinder
Bound For Peace is a service trip program that sends volunteers to develop workshops for youth in Latin America. Over 500 hundred volunteers have traveled with Children Beyond Our Borders to Latin America in the past 13 years and the volunteers work to facilitate workshops with the children there.
Maria Morales is one of the trip leaders for the upcoming Bound For Peace Trip to Medellin and she spoke briefly about what the team will be doing this year.
“We will be in Medellin for two weeks to educate and give educational workshops to young girls affected by social & economic injustice in Colombia. We will provide tools that will stimulate their knowledge & interest in themselves & those around them,” Maria said.
“For this specific trip we will focus on universal values such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty, fairness, caring, respect, responsibility, pursuit of excellence, accountability, tradition & culture, goals orientation, & last but not least self-care,” Maria said. “The volunteers will all work together to create interactive & fun workshops to teach the girls all about these topics.”
Not only do the students get to volunteer and interact the youth in Medellin but they will also get to do some sightseeing during the weekends there and experience the rich Colombian culture.
“While we are there we will also immerse ourselves in the Colombian culture through their food and visiting some of the most well-known spots in Medellin to better relate to them,” Maria said
Carolina Palacio is another one of the trip leaders. She stated that the workshops and activities done through the program can produce many benefits for the children.
“In Medellin we are helping underprivileged kids by integrating them in hands on activities that work toward preparing them fight social conflicts in their country,” Carolina said. “All of these workshops strive to enlighten the children and inspire them to fight for a better future for themselves and everyone around them. The volunteers will be directly working with kids in engaging activities in the hopes of transmitting these messages but also giving the children a whole new experience to enjoy and learn from.”
This year there will be a group of seven volunteers going to Medellin. One of those volunteers is UF student Nathalie Perez.
Nathalie is a Junior at UF studying business administration and sociology and this will be her first BFP trip.
“I'm really looking forward to spending all day with the young girls,” Nathalie said. “Our days are going to be long, but I'm excited to be able to see the impact I have on the girls and to learn from them as well.”
Nathalie said that her main inspiration for going on the trip is her desire to serve children abroad and her love for Children Beyond Our Borders.
“I have always loved working with children and once I got involved with CBOB, I knew that I had to do a trip like this before I graduate,” Nathalie said. “I served as the Community Outreach Director for the UF Chapter from Jan 2016 to April 2017 and have worked with local children in Gainesville doing workshops and tutoring. However, I wanted to get the full CBOB experience and travel abroad and do what I've been doing here in Gainesville over there.”
Nathalie also stated that she believes that the work Children Beyond Our Borders does on these trips can have a lasting impact on both the children and the volunteers.
“I think trips like these are real eye-openers,” Nathalie said. “Here in the USA, we all hear about the differences in our education system compared to countries in Latin America, but we don't really understand the differences. We could see a video or see pictures about the disadvantages kids in Latin America have, but until we witness it with our own eyes, we can't fully understand. The children in Colombia will benefit from us just as will benefit from them. The kids will have the opportunity to learn from the workshops we have planned. The interaction between the children and volunteers will be a mutual learning experience for both parties. We each will gain insightful cultural knowledge from each other.”
The trip will last two weeks and the team is set to leave at the end of this week. To learn more about Bound For Peace and the application process to become a volunteer on future trips visit http://www.chbob.org/bound-for-peace.