By Andrea Beatriz Arbizú
Hello! My name is Andrea Arbizu. I’m 35 years old, an economist working with youth and education. Today, I want to tell you about my journey in this adventure called the Professional Fellows Program on Economic Empowerment. I have had intense weeks both professionally and personally, which have allowed me to have a holistic learning experience for future challenges once I return to my country, El Salvador. So I want to share with you three valuable lessons from this adventure and why I encourage you to seek once-in-a-life opportunities.
First lesson: Cultural exchange generates sustainable development. I have the opportunity to be in Tucson, Arizona, and it’s amazing how all cultures have connected and allowed opportunities for their citizens. I had the chance to meet many people through meetings, coffee breaks, conversations, classes, and cultural adventures. This first lesson was also taught to me by my host in Tucson. She showed me that even in more relaxed environments, you can continue learning and building community and create the most powerful project for your community. She and her team (who are also women, by the way!) don’t just work from a desk but rather connect with people, getting to know their ideas, and their projects, contributing and listening.
Second lesson: Small actions have big impacts. Throughout my journey in the Professional Fellows Program, I witnessed firsthand how small actions can create significant change. For example, in the organization where I am doing my fellowship, through short classes, they aim to teach small business owners the importance of keeping their accounting up to date, of knowing more about the digital world, and in the long term, this would create prosperous and stable businesses. Getting to know these initiatives has motivated me to create learning spaces for my organization related to leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology. It reminded me that we all have the power to make a difference, just with a short class or with a workshop you can have an impact, so no matter how small our actions may seem, it’s the collective effort of these small actions that can lead to transformative and sustainable change.
Third lesson: I have reaffirmed that we have come into the world to connect, contribute, and support each other. In Tucson, I met many people working in different organizations and projects, all with a common purpose, to work for their city and their people. Connecting with each other to create a real impact in our communities. Thanks to this program, I carry valuable contacts with me for my projects, connections that without this opportunity, I would not have had the chance to meet.
So, after 4 weeks in Tucson, Arizona, I can say that I take with me the challenge of returning to my country and not seeing other projects as competition, but rather as allies to work towards a common goal. I bring with me the aim of improving opportunities for young people and gaining more information about the world of productive initiatives from a government and non-profit organization perspective. Additionally, I take with me the warm affection of the lovely people of Tucson, and their desire to continue innovating and contributing to the city. They inspire me to continue contributing to the well-being of my country.
All opinions expressed by the program participants are their own and do not represent nor reflect official views from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, or of the Institute for Training and Development, Inc.