Hello! My name is Alexandra Pearson and I am the new Americorps* VISTA for the Weppner Center for Civic Engagement and Service. I was born and raised in Orlando, Fl and went to Rollins College where I just graduated with an Honors BA in International Relations with concentrations in Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. Service has been a huge part of my life since childhood. I have participated in numerous service projects including:
Local food kitchens
Habitat for Humanity
Coalition for the Homeless
Mexican Consulate of Orlando
Numerous academic service learning courses
and, two international service trips, one to Guatemala and the other to Thailand.
The picture below is of my trip to Thailand. One of our stops was a Burmese orphanage (Burma is the country right next to Thailand to the West. Because of numerous conflicts and lack of freedoms, it is an overall unpleasant place to be for many ethnic minorities who once called Burma their home.) We spent the day playing with over 100 children who had lost their parents in the conflict. It was sad to discover that these children are actually considered stateless because Burma does not recognize them (because the children fled the country) and neither does Thailand (as Thailand does not have international agreements acknowledging refugee status.) In simpler terms, these children cannot legally leave the country making it impossible for them to ever be adopted internationally.
Trips like these as well as the numerous volunteer projects I have taken part in in the United States have made me realize the importance of acting as an ally for people in less fortunate situations. Not only do you provide them a service, a friendship, and hope but you also receive so much in return, more than you could ever ask for. The girl in the picture below never let go of me for the 5 hours we were there. In her broken English she whispered “I love you” to me. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. I’ll admit, I started tearing up. Despite that I had nothing in common with the girl and there was a very difficult language barrier between us, she was able to open up her heart to me and consider me a friend. I will always remember that little girl. It is experiences like these that I wish every person in the world could have the opportunity to experience.
I expect this year at FAU to be as wonderful and rewarding as some of my other experiences. Not only because I get to continue with my passion of serving others, but also because I can impart the wonderfulness of service onto every member of the FAU community. Even if you have never volunteered before, I encourage you to stop by our office, SS 225, and talk to me about how you can get involved. I promise you will not regret it!!! See you around!