Introducing Myself

My name is Mariajose Ladera and my major is International Affairs. I live in Woodstock, Georgia, a city 30-45 minutes from Atlanta, but usually I just say I am from Atlanta. Both of my parents are from South America, which means I can speak both English and Spanish. I am currently learning German, but I am still a beginner.

This summer I had planned to be a part of the Global Exchange program by taking an intensive German course in Oldenburg, Germany. Unfortunately, do to some unforeseen circumstances at the university, they are not able to have their program for this summer. After receiving the news, I immediately started looking for other program or organizations that could provide me with something related towards intercultural interactions or service work. I wanted to be involved with a community whether it be as a local in another country or in community service. I eventually found a program through AmeriCorp which helps families, specifically immigrant families who are approved through a certain government program, prevent learning loss in their children during the summer. Located 30 min from Washington D.C, this organization caught my attention and had me applying within minutes. The following day I had an interview with a lady in charge of that location. She told me about the organizations and what I would be doing if I were to work there. As she was talking and telling me about her experience working with the organization, one word stood out to me: stories. Her time with the organization has allowed her to meet many people and listen to their stories. When I heard this, I immediately knew it was for me because I love getting to know people. In my eyes, stories are important to a person because it makes up who they are and allows for others to understand them and their perspective on life. Hopefully my time with this organization provides me with community engagement and new stories. 

What I am most unsure about this experience is how everything will fit together, since I will not have a car up there. I have heard that the public transportation in that area is really good, but I have never ridden on public transportation as a means of getting to and from school or work. I am a bit nervous about that, but excited because it can also be a new story to my own book. 

The picture I choose is our view traveling to Colorado during winter break. Although it is not “of me,” it represents how I am feeling towards this summer. I associate airplanes with adventures, so this view plus the airplane wing shows that this summer will hopefully be an adventure. 

Published by Warren Oliver

CRE Associate Director for Global Programming

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