Be the change…


After the visit to Salinas Valley State Prison, I was overwhelmed by the number of prisoners affiliated with gang violence and I was sad to learn that most of these prisoner were probably unable to see life beyond gang memberships and violence as it’s a predominant part of their culture.

Yesterday’s Mr. Willie Stokes’s testimony gave me a hope that there is a way to change the gang culture for future generations and provide a better opportunity for the youths. Mr. Willie was an example to illustrate that to have a challenging background is not entirely who you would become, instead what you do to come out of those difficulties is what defines you. Mr. Willie’s testimonial was inspirational and moving. For me, his story was a life lesson, not only I learned so much about gang violence in America and the role of women and youths in the process, but also how to be the change that has to happen in our communities. I often blame the ‘system’ as I become cynical about what’s is happening in the streets of many lower-income American communities but Mr. Willie made me realize that instead of waiting for something to change the system, I have to be the change.

I have always been passionate about working in NGOs, helping people access opportunities for education. I have always believed that education is a route to economic development. I had the opportunity to get an international education as a young girl. I would like to help develop a system to ensure every child gets a chance to empowerment. I would like to be part of a movement that helps disadvantaged kids get access to education and ultimately eradicate violence.