From Barranquilla, Colombia to Chapel Hill, United States of America

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, a city where happiness and rhythm fill every corner and every heart. My country of origin is simple indescribable, but for the purpose of this blog I’ll summarize it in: great food, joyous people, two ocean coasts, mountains, rivers and even a jungle. By this point you might be asking, “So how did you end up here?!” and “Why would you ever leave such a charming place?!”

Fair enough.

From an early age I think everyone around me could tell that I had a heart inclined towards helping others, and in particular, towards impoverished communities. I majored in Government and International Relations in Colombia, and my research mainly sought strategies to champion policy change as a means to aid those least favored. A couple of years after finishing college, I was offered a commendable job in Washington D.C. to support governments in their efforts of promoting effective labor and employment policies. Two suitcases, a one way-ticket, one Colombian passport and a soul thirsty to grasp the world were all my belongings when I crossed the Atlantic back in 2009.

I moved to the United States expecting to stay a couple of years; little I knew that I was going to stay for seven (and still counting!). While working in D.C. I had the honorable opportunity to travel and work with all governments of the continent. Furthermore, I also traveled to the Dominican Republic and the Philippines as a church volunteer during that time. Overall, the main lessons I learned from my time in D.C. were that charity is not the answer to combat poverty, and that governments cannot bolster economic and social development on their own. This said, finding new alternatives on how I could support the empowerment of low-income populations became a fixed desire in my heart.

Needless to say, my colleagues and friends were not surprised when I shared with them my interest in pursuing graduate studies in Social Work. In fact, I was encouraged by several of them! As I did my research on the top schools offering social work programs, I realized that somewhere along my time in the United States, this country had become my new home. Therefore, it was particularly easy to decide to stay around for a couple of more years. And so I did, and to be honest, I am enjoying it! I have to conclude by saying that the adventure-packed story on how I ended choosing Carolina (the school, not my name!) is definitely worth telling…in my next blog entry! In the meantime, thanks for reading!

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