By Andrea Vielma, OneWorld Now! Alumna
I first joined OneWorld Now! the summer after my freshman year in high school, all the way back in 2009. As a brown, middle-class student in a private school, OneWorld Now! offered me a sense of belonging my educators failed to provide. I tribute my personal growth to OWN because of this. A lot of students undergo similar transformations: we start out very quiet at the beginning of the program and by the time we graduate, we find that we have grown confident and comfortable with our own voices.
Through fundraising activities for OWN, I learned to be comfortable with and enjoy public speaking. Both as a student and an alumnus, I was supported and encouraged to share my own experiences and thoughts — not just in speeches but through my own style of prose. In this way, OneWorld Now! didn’t only offer me a leg up in educational, global, and leadership skills, but in professional skills as well.
Currently, I work full-time as a project coordinator at a value management company and part-time as a retail sales associate. Even today, when I am unsure of how to handle a situation at work, I know that I can turn to my OneWorld Now! mentors for guidance and advice.
OneWorld Now! was, and still is, a family to me. I maintain connected to my peers through various parts of my life. Khyree, the current leadership facilitator, and I have been training in Polynesian dance styles for over a year together (along with some other OWN alumni). My significant other and I met through OneWorld Now!, and reconnected in Morocco years later.
About Andrea Vielma: Andrea is a OneWorld Now alumni (2009-2012) who studied Arabic as a student and then went on to join the staff board as a leadership co-facilitator. She continued to study Arabic in college and obtained her BA in Linguistics. Andrea volunteered abroad in Kenya with OneWorld Now! and went on to study abroad in Mali, Spain, and Jordan on her own. Her final role with OneWorld Now! was as a Trip Co-leader in Russia.