By Angelina Martinez, Mexico
On September 24 morning as we traveled to Hatfield, the sky was completely cloudy, a few drops of rain were sliding down the window, but that did not make the scenery less beautiful. I have always enjoyed road trips, so I immersed myself in my thoughts while enjoying the landscape. I remembered what it was like to arrive at this program, at this moment in my life. When I saw the call for the Professional Fellows Program, I was in the mountains of Oaxaca, accompanying two filmmakers who were recording a documentary about our towns and of course tourism in the region. The call closed in just three days, with a lot of things to do for the film and with a bad internet connection, it took me three nights to send it, but, here we are! It has been almost three weeks since I arrived in this country, and I could not summarize in one blog entry what it has meant for me. The classes that I have had the opportunity to take at UMASS, the connections my host has made for me, allowing me to meet incredible people, willing to share their knowledge and experiences, the visit to New York City, how impressive it was to walk the High Line, the efforts of making that space, a green space in the middle of a big city. But without a doubt, one of the days that I have enjoyed the most has been this one.
When Luisa (another fellow) invited me to participate as a volunteer in the WILL BIKE4 FOOD, organized by her host organization “The Food Bank”, I thought there would be no better way to spend my Sunday, and boy was I right. Over 300 cyclists joined the event, of all ages, people who, despite the rain and how difficult it must have been to ride in those conditions, were there, moved by the desire to support. The event raised $200,000 that day, which means Food Bank will be able to provide 600,000 healthy meals to members of the West Mass community in need.
It was undoubtedly fun to help at the event and motivate the cyclists to complete their ride at the finish line, but the most valuable thing was to see the opportunities that this type of event offers and the impact that the movement of several people united by the same goal generates. Sharing experiences with Andrew Morehouse, the Food Bank´s director, about this event and my work in tourism in the rural areas of Oaxaca, I concluded that promoting this type of event in my region would help raise funds to invest in equipment and training of our community guides or education for our youth. Andrew kindly offered to give me some advice, and I will take that home with me. It was a great day.
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.