My experience with Human Connections was an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime for a student like me. Before Human Connections, I was a student from Columbia College Chicago struggling to find an internship within a pool of other qualified students. I had absolutely no confidence in myself professionally and was desperately seeking my competitive edge to stand out in the crowd.
Then, I saw a fellow Facebook friend post about her experience at Human Connections and I immediately applied for the winter program. At first, I was honestly surprised I was even chosen to be interviewed. When I was offered the internship position, I knew there was a reason why I had been denied by all the other internships I had applied for that fall semester.
Human Connections had an unexpected impact in my life. I learned a lot about myself, confidence, and perseverance. At Human Connections, in Mexico, I mattered. The work I was doing mattered to me and the others around me. Meeting all of the artisans and food vendors made me realize that the Mexican culture is innately infused with creativity.
I always thought I made a mistake going to liberal arts school or I should have aimed for a better renowned college. But, Human Connections and Mexico made me realize I was exactly where I needed to be. The path I took to get me where I am today is a path I do not regret because it led me to intern at an organization that truly cares about their clients and students.
At Human Connections, I learned my culture again. I am first generation Mexican-American and the second sibling to be graduating college within my family. I remember running away from my culture at a very young age. I remember self-hate at a very young age. I remember the racism and disregarding it because of my self-hate. Parents don’t teach you how cope or handle these thoughts. My self-hate slowly dissipated once I got to college. The educational tours and travel at Human Connections connected me to my culture again. As a Mexican, I am hard-working, humble, creative, and full of perseverance type of beauty.
Not only did I connect with my culture again, I connected with the artisans and food vendors I was introduced to. They were reminders of my mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather. The bond and change that was created within the three weeks I was in Mexico was unimaginable. I had artisans like Francisco and Marina give gifts to me, Noah, and Kim on our last night out in Sayulita. They even asked us when we were coming back to visit, and that’s when I knew we had made an impact.
It’s an unexplainable feeling of happiness knowing there was an impact made. All I wanted to do afterwards was stay in Mexico and work with our artisans. Breaking away from Human Connections and Mexico was tough because I was in my personal form of heaven. I was working for a non-profit that I believed 100% in their mission and in their team.
I’d like to say I came out with four mentors from Human Connections. I worked with such hard-working women; I was in awe with them. They were understanding, intelligent, and in love with my culture. They strive to help my people; my mother, my father, and my grandparents. Their beautiful hearts were all in the work they were doing and believed in the work they were doing. It was such an uplifting atmosphere to be working with the women that made things happen. I was so comfortable with them that I definitely cried a couple of times in front of them because I was so overwhelmed with different emotions. I had finally found my confidence and my competitive edge. I was proud of myself most importantly. I’d like to say these women definitely helped me find myself and helped me in more ways than they even know.
Human Connections took me out of my comfort zone. I did things that I thought I would never do on my own. I found myself at Human Connections. I found strength within myself that I thought I never had. All the negativity I held about myself quickly disappeared. I felt like I was no longer drowning in my own woes and worries. I no longer feel that being Mexican-American is a setback, instead it IS my competitive edge. Human Connections was one of the most eye-opening experiences as a Mexican-American and I am so glad I had a chance to experience it with Elly, Victoria, Esly, and Sarah. Las quiero mucho, saludos!