It’s week 5 of our 6 week Viva Fund Campaign, raising funds for our Youth Program in El Salvador. In this post, our Communications and Outreach Manager Tricia Johnson writes about her experience with the Youth Program in El Salvador and her transition home. It continues the Viva Fund series, outlining the expansion and successes of our program. Learn about the Youth Program and give generously to support its programs in El Salvador.
I never thought the supermarket would leave me paralyzed, but last week, it did. I was completely overwhelmed. I had just moved into a new apartment and needed groceries- simple, right? But as I stood in the aisle, all I could do was stare, unsure where to start or how on earth I was supposed to decide what to buy.
It’s moments like that when I realize I have only been home for two months. After 10 months of living in rural El Salvador, everyday activities overwhelm me when I least expect it- primarily grocery shopping, loud conversations in English, and freeways.
Those of you that follow our blog may have read some of my posts while I was EcoViva’s International Fellow, living and working in the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador. Since then, I’ve come home, moved, and begun work as EcoViva’s Communications and Outreach Manger.
Since returning to the U.S. I’ve had many moments like this, caught in the unfamiliarity of my hometown and things that used to seem so normal. For 10 months my normal was living and working in the Lower Lempa- waking up to a chorus of chickens and cows, riding my bike to work, and working out in the communities.
While I was in El Salvador, I worked very closely with the Youth Program. We spent hours locked in the office together, brainstorming about what the expanded youth program would look like- could look like- and filling page after page with ideas written, edited, scribbled out, then revisited. We wrote letters and proposals, drank more coffee than I ever have in my life, and had numerous silly sing-a-longs (you know, those moments that only come after working with one group of people for just a bit too long…).
I returned to the United States in April and was hired to work at EcoViva’s Oakland office. One of my tasks was to manage the Viva Fund Campaign, raising money for the very youth program that may have caused my slight coffee addiction. I immediately said yes. It was a great opportunity to continue what I had started by participating in the planning process from El Salvador. I now got to support the program from the United States.
The four program coordinators, David, Tulio, Ada, and Nohé, bring different talents to the group. David, a talented public speaker and natural facilitator, always knows the right things to say while standing in front of a crowded community center. Tulio’s passion for dance and working with youth motivates and inspires both the members of his dance group and his co-workers to do the best job they can. Ada, the newest addition to the Mangrove Association, is a quick learner and powerful writer, grasping concepts and putting them on paper almost quicker than the group formulates them. Nohé provides the backbone, working tirelessly, briefing groups for the next event, and always reminding the others of the lessons learned in the past.
The four youth program coordinators are my co-workers and friends, people I respect, trust, and always learn from. They are my motivation while managing this campaign, cheering others on in their fundraising, and sharing it with new people whenever I can.
I have found people that I look up to in Tulio, David, Ada, and Nohé. They take the reins, never afraid to try new things and always inspiring others to do the same. They are some of the best facilitators, motivators, and leaders I have met.
I believe in the Viva Fund and the Youth program. I support youth creating opportunities where other youth can engage- with their peers, community leaders, and the environment. I support youth being creative, getting outside to play sports, reading, and leading their communities. Supporting the Viva Fund Campaign for me is about creating those opportunities for as many people young people as possible.
Moments like last week, staring down the aisles of the grocery store happen more than I like to admit. When I am left paralyzed, wondering when this transition will get easier, I remember people like Tulio, David, Ada, and Nohé and how lucky I am to continue working with them, even if it is from a distance.