Thursday, August 20, 2015

Volunteer Reflections: Lindsay

Greetings, Starfish supporters! This summer we are especially excited to share the reflections of our current cohort of Starfish interns, who are supporting us in our social media and fundraising projects. Today's post comes from Lindsay, who is a member of our Summer 2015 Social Media Team. She creates videos for our Youtube page!

In life, we have three options when we see a problem. We can ignore it by hoping that someone else will fix it. We can accept it by assuming that it can’t be fixed and move on. Or we can be the ones who take the initiative to solve the problem, no matter how complex and difficult it may be. Working for the Starfish Foundation so far as taught me how to take the third option, and be the leader who makes the change.

I love learning about Latin America. From the four years of Spanish class I took in high school, to the Anthropology class I took in college, to my first trip to Costa Rica in 2014, learning about the culture there has always been something that has fascinated me. Maybe that’s why when I heard of the Starfish Foundation, it was immediately something that peaked my interest. It took my two great loves, Latin America and helping others, and brought them together.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was very unsure. I had a burning desire to be a leader and make a difference in the world, but my fear of failure was almost strong enough to diminish that flame. At the end of my sophomore year, I attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar in Maine, and suddenly, my fear started the fade. Eager to learn more about how I can make a difference, I attended the World Leadership Congress the following summer in Chicago. It was there that I heard about the Starfish Foundation when Beth spoke about how HOBY inspired her to start this nonprofit. It was after my HOBY experience that I knew that I had what it took to make a difference, and I started to become interested in working for a nonprofit.

Along with my love for Latin America, I am also very passionate about education, specifically education rights for all. Malala Yousafzai is one of my idols because of her passion for learning and speaking out for girls having the right to an education. I believe that everyone should have the right to an education, no matter who they are. To me, this includes people with disabilities. During my senior year of high school, I volunteered in a Life Skills classroom with students who severe disabilities. That was where I fell in love with Special Education, and decided to make it my major in college at the University of Maine at Farmington, along with a minor in International Studies. My dream is to someday bring these two together and work with students with learning disabilities in foreign countries to ensure they are able to finish school.

In my Anthropology class, I had to pick a topic relating to Latin America and do a research project on it. Naturally, I decided to study the education system in Latin America, with a focus on Special Education. I was disturbed to see that there wasn’t a lot of information on this topic, which is because Special Education isn’t a huge focus right now in many developing countries. With the cost of school so high and unattainable for so many families, students with a disability aren’t going to school because so many feel as if it “wouldn’t be worth it” for them. I want to eliminate the stigma of having a disability, and teach students how to embrace their abilities, rather than let their disabilities control their life. This would include identifying the student's’ strengths, while also working through their weaknesses with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), to ensure they finish school.

I hope that by working with the Starfish Foundation, I am getting my foot in the door with a nonprofit so I can someday work with one as a career. I love what Starfish stands for because it also stands for exactly what I believe in: one by one, we can all make a difference in the world if we work together.

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