Carina and Jessie, our two power packed super-women, left some big shoes to be filled this January. Enter Shelby, our new Women’s Empowerment Program Manager from Downers Grove, IL, who has taken up the platform with poise and purpose. A graduate from the Michigan State University, where she studied Spanish, Secondary Education, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and French, she’d been instructing yoga and serving as an AmeriCorps members for a non-profit in Lansing, MI before joining the LLI in January 2015.
Apart from the Women’s Program duties such as leading coordination of weekly educational workshops with our women’s group, overseeing the Artisan Program, track the program impact and development, Shelby also teaches an adolescent English class at our teen center three nights a week. That’s not all! She’s been teaching yoga workshops and weekly computer classes as part of the Women’s Program as well!
“The first thing that comes to mind is the women and youth that I get to work with. I have been so greatly to have the opportunity to develop relationships with our Women’s Program participants and with my teen English students. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. I love that we live within the community that we work. It makes us feel like we are truly a part of the community that we are serving, and it helps us understand the goals of the community members that we serve. And of course, I love the living situation. It’s so much fun to live with an amazing group of fun, hard-working friends that are all working towards the same goals.”
I love teaching the teen English classes. I love sitting in on the women’s workshops. I love going on fun weekend trips with the volunteers! I love picking up new artisan products. I love everything!
To anyone who seeks to volunteer for the LLI, Shelby’s advice is:
Try to stay present in the moment. Soak in all the experiences of being immersed in a new culture – it’s something that not everyone gets to experience. Make connections with the people you work with, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or look silly. Embrace Huaycán, it has a lot to teach you!!
And if you have your heart set to travel and experience the diversity this amazing world has to offer, here’s a gem of wisdom from Shelby that’ll help you through any frustration and make your travels a time to remember:
It’s natural to have expectations for your trip. Identify what they are, and then let them go. There is no way of knowing how your experience is going to change you, you just have to let it happen, and stay positive and engaged through it all. Don’t be afraid to let yourself change, and to let go of old thought patterns and lifestyle habits. Send only love to the people you meet, and it will reflect right back onto you!