“We are a generation fueled with potential. We are generation electrified with competence. But we need to find our place. We will only begin to gain a sense of global awareness, to think freely and critically, if we are given the opportunity to understand, to see, and to experience the world. Selected as a NetWings Corp Delegate, I traveled to Cologne, Germany in March of 2017. In doing so, I feel as if I have discovered colors I had never seen before; emotions I had never felt before.” – NetWings Corp Student Delegate, Roberto Osorio
As Roberto’s words linger in my mind, I cannot help but to be reminded of a younger version of myself. Both inquisitive and endearing in nature, anxious to find my place in an increasingly interconnected world, it wasn’t until my participation as a 2011 HERlead Fellow, that I realized the person I was and the person I hoped to become. Exposed to women throughout the world from an early age throughout a 4 day leadership symposium in Washington DC, I soon became friends with a Palm Oil Activist, a Spoken Word Poet, a Documentary Film Maker, amongst many other awe-inspiring women. In more ways than one, an early exposure to allies and friends spanning from places such as Ann Arbor, Michigan to Kwanyuswa, South Africa, Izmir, Turkey and beyond, have allowed for me to foster global competencies such as empathy, respect, as well as a yearning for perspective building.
Yet for many youth, a limitation in environment can oftentimes serve as the biggest culprit in hindering their view of possibilities in the world. Presented with the challenge of interacting with peers who come from cultures much different than their own, those with the skills and understanding of how to be curious of others, how to ask questions, how to listen, how to explore and value differences and similarities, and how to articulately communicate their own lives to those variant from themselves, will thrive. Yet, despite the US government allocating nearly a half a billion dollars towards physical exchanges annually, less than 1 percent of American students will have the opportunity to travel abroad. And when they do, many will travel to Paris, London and Rome, without truly experiencing travel to places with the greatest cultural awareness gaps, with a great need for understanding.
Inspired by my time as a HERlead Fellow and Grantee, as well as the many privileged interactions NetWings Corp. has allowed to me experience with courageous and curious youth, I remain committed in creating opportunities of exposure for Generation Z to defy barriers of geography, language, culture, and experience alongside NetWings Corp. Serving as a for purpose, cross cultural exchange program based in Washington DC, we aim to provide early global exposure opportunities for Generation Z to interact with the world. Traveling to places ranging from Argentina, to Germany in learning to build international allies and networks, to understand new cultures, and to actively delve into current global issues and conflicts, our students participate first hand in some of the world’s most prestigious student-run conferences, developing real world solutions through a case study curriculum methodology, unique to NetWings Corp, to help youth collaborate with their peers globally, in the hopes of Learning to Build Perspective, Not Walls.
To learn more about NetWings Corp. and to support the organizations’ mission to connect Classrooms to the World, check out the organization at www.netwingsnetwork.com,
@NetWings Corp on Facebook, or HERlead Fellow, Jacqueline Martinez’ Ted Talk, In Cities I’d Never Lived