Feeling excited, blessed, overjoyed and eager. I am ready to embark on an adventure I would never have thought possible. Let me introduce myself, I’m Chelsea. I’m a sophomore at the University of California Berkeley studying Psychology. Being apart of such a large community with over 36,000 students and over 2,000 faculty members here at Cal, I am overwhelmed with the plethora of research, clubs, classes and extracurricular opportunities I am presented with on the daily. While there are so many things to do, there are the few things that are distinctly Berkeley that reflect this community more than the rest. For example you can’t graduate without taking Ananya Roy’s Global Poverty class. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrW8ier__4Q
After taking this course last semester I learned about the Global Poverty and Practice minor. This minor, the largest minor at Cal, gives students the opportunity to understand contemporary forms of poverty, wealth and inequality through academic coursework and practice experience out in the field. Upon exploring this minor I began to dream of the possibility to travel to a country in which I am deeply rooted, Chile. After traveling there two years ago, excited to explore my ancestry and meet extended family, I discovered the tremendous class inequality that exists. Within the large metropolitan city of Santiago, I noticed an area of small rundown shacks, unlike anything I had ever seen. Throughout my entire trip I found myself exploring the ideas of class systems and economic standings in Chile. I learned about and participated in several marches for education that were happening during my stay. Little did I know then that my journey toward discovery, interest and understanding of these social issues had only just begun. With the help of the Global Poverty department at Cal, as a declared Global Poverty and Practice minor, I was able to prepare for my next trip to this amazing country.
For my practice experience this summer I will be working for six weeks with TECHO – Chile. TECHO is a non-profit organization that encourages youth volunteers to become involved in the battle against extreme poverty by establishing sustainable housing for the poor. TECHO is an organization that attempts to use a cohesive approach toward creating neighborhoods and communities that are based on four major themes of sustainability: Identity, organization/participation, self-management and access to formal networks. This approach attempts to create lasting changes in impoverished areas to improve the standard of living for individuals and communities. I chose this organization because I believe in its efforts to mobilize youth volunteers in order to fight and take action to eliminate some of the social and economic inequalities in the country. Undoubtedly, youth are the ones that care deeply about the future of Chile because they are the future.
After a semester of in class preparation for doing volunteer work in the realm of poverty action, with a ten page literature review on the history of housing development in Chile under my belt, I feel prepared to work with TECHO this upcoming month. However, I still have little to no idea what my life will consist of living in Chile for the summer. I am delving into this opportunity with an open mind and an open heart. I look forward to new experiences, with challenges along the way, which will teach me not only about Chile and the communities I will be working with but also a lot about myself. I’m excited for what the next two months have in store for me. Wish me luck!