I was an observer for most of my life. I was always the shy kid hiding behind my mom, refusing to do anything that seemed a little scary. Then, in high school I met my hero, Sylvia. She made me realize the beauty of fully partaking in everyday life. Sylvia encouraged me to chase after my dreams especially if they scared me; those dreams were the most worthwhile. One aspiration I always held, but was terrified of, was becoming fluent in Spanish. Sylvia made me realize that the only way I would achieve this goal was to take a challenging, but crucial step out of my comfort zone. You may be wondering, “How does this have anything to do with the United Way of Wyandotte County?” The answer is simple. Through my internship at United Way of Wyandotte County I have become empowered and inspired to chase my dream and better my community.
I am currently interning for the United Way of Wyandotte County in the resource development department. This department is primarily responsible for the annual fundraising campaigns. My United Way supervisor presented me with the opportunity to give a campaign speech in Spanish at one of the workplace campaigns. I agreed to do it, although at the time I was thinking, “You want me to do WHAT?!” I debated whether I really wanted to reach that far outside my comfort zone.
October 2nd was the momentous day. I entered the presentation room (pictured above) and I panicked. It finally hit me that I was actually going to give my first speech for the “Live Heroic-Live United” campaign and I was doing it in Spanish. In addition, it would be my first speech to an audience of native Spanish speakers. Before completely freaking out, I remembered what Sylvia had taught me. “Most native Spanish speakers won’t care if you mess up; they’re just excited that you are trying.” I used this piece of advice as my mantra to calm myself.
After I delivered my speech, with only a few mispronounced words, I remembered another piece of Sylvia’s wisdom; the most important part of learning another language is the desire to do so. If one has the drive and passion to achieve fluency, it will happen. In fact, this advice is true in every aspect of life, including increasing the community’s understanding of human needs and mobilizing resources to meet those needs, the mission of United Way of Wyandotte County.
The United Way arduously works to support their three goals of meeting basic human needs, nurturing children and families, and promoting health and quality of life in Wyandotte County. While these goals may seem lofty, I have learned from Sylvia that any goal appearing impossible can be attained with the right dedication and desire. If we follow the advice of Sylvia, we will be able to achieve these objectives and make Wyandotte County an even better place to call home.