My story starts in Colombia. Having been born and raised for 7 years in Colombia gives me immense pride in my culture and background. Fast forward 16 years and happily Canadian, my heart is full with love for both countries and cultures.

Growing up in Canada, I realized the different experiences and opportunities that I was privileged enough to be receiving compared to others back home. In some way I knew I wanted to bring both cultures together and give back to those that didn’t have the same opportunities as I had.

Upon starting university, many international opportunities were made available to me but none of them struck a chord. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon an organization called Help, Learn & Discover. This organization takes university students down to Ecuador to A) shadow doctors and rotate around a hospital to gain insight into the medical field (Learn) B) volunteer in building 20 homes for in-need communities (Help) and C) travel throughout the country to explore its diverse landscapes and culture (discover). Granted this program took place in Ecuador and not Colombia, but to me this didn’t matter because I was doing what I wanted – to give back.

Upon arriving to Ecuador for the first time, I fell in love with the country and the people…even though they had funny accents and not as delicious food (hard to get rid of the bias completely). This coming August will be the third time I go down to Ecuador with this program. Each time I learn new skills and facts, discover new parts of the countries and help more and more people. After this summer, I will be unbelievably grateful to have had the opportunity to help 60 families within Ecuador.

My love for my Colombian culture helped me find this opportunity in Ecuador and with my resources within Canada I was able to give back in more ways than I could have ever imagined. A wonderful experience made possible by three cultures.

Lorena H – INLIV

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