The city or place where you are born defines and influences your nationality, personality, behavior, and language. However, it should not define your future. The country, city, town, or village where you are born is responsible for protecting you and providing infrastructures, social welfare, and resources that will help you develop your full potential. Sadly, for those individuals who come from impoverished backgrounds, their full potential may never develop fully.
Inequality in every aspect is an issue that I have always been sensitive about. Mainly because, even though my country is beautiful, it is also one of the poorest and most unequal countries in Latin America. Seeing families not having enough food or kids selling candies on the streets changed the way I see life and made me want to do something about it.
Growing up in Lima and Maryland, I noticed how much inequality can exist in many places around the world. This fact, along with the lack of interest on the part of city leaders, will probably affect generations. In fact, both Peruvian and American systems of public education are unequal. In Peru, private schools funded by parents have the necessary resources, but public schools are in desolate conditions without even mentioning that they do not have the proper equipment or access to technology. While in America, public schools that are located in wealthy areas receive more funding than those which are in less affluent areas. From my personal experience, as a volunteer teacher of math and communication, I worked with students who attended rural public schools in Peru. I noticed how bad the quality of education was. My little students had big dreams, yet they were not getting all the resources they needed. These same issues exist in the USA, and students in low-income areas do not receive as much support as students in high-income areas. I believe that access to education should not be a privilege, and everybody should have access to it. However, the community where you live plays a critical role in your future success.
Before I graduated from Montgomery College with an AA in Business, I learned about the Frank Karel Fellowship at a transfer fair. Two weeks before graduation, I found out that I was selected to be one of the 2021 Fellows. I was so excited, not only because this was the only fellowship I had ever applied to in my life, but also because I was going to be interning at the National League of Cities (NLC), whose objectives are closely aligned with mine. NLC is the voice of America’s cities, towns, and villages, representing more than 200 million people. They work to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy, and drive innovative solutions for more than 2,500 member cities.
Part of the internship is to write blogs and create content for social media. However, as I do the daily press hits every morning, I noticed that communities’ challenges differ from one to another, and it is the local leaders’ responsibility to solve these complex problems. NLC does a great job of providing members the necessary tools to bring more resources into their communities. Unfortunately, resources are not always equally distributed, and NLC works to bring that fact to the attention of those powerful enough who can do something about it.
For me, it is sad to be doing this amazing fellowship via Zoom, but these past four weeks have been incredible because I had the opportunity to meet people who are passionate about social issues and love what they do. Before this internship, I did not know that there was a way to address the issues of inequality at the city level. I now know that there are ways in which city leaders can face many of these issues, which gives me some hope.