I have always loved to travel. In the past two years, I have been to Central America, several European countries, the Caribbean, Quebec, and Northern Africa. I think one of the reasons I love traveling so much is because I get to meet incredible people who are very different from me, and different from the people I normally encounter at home in Herndon, Virginia. Before my internship with Empowered Women International, I had spent time with underprivileged, inner-city kids in Spain, met young Mayan girls who walked miles to school every single day, and worked with Guatemalans who are driven to improve their lives and the lives of people in their communities. I met all of these remarkable people during my travels far from Herndon. Since this internship with Empowered Women International was my first job in my career field in the United States, I did not really expect it to be much like the work I did in other countries. However, I realized over the course of my three-plus months with EWI that I was very wrong. The women that I met and worked with were just as remarkable and memorable as the many extraordinary people I have encountered abroad. These women are real change-makers, sacrificing so much of themselves so that they, their families, other women, and their communities are able to grow and thrive.
To me, the coolest thing about these empowered women is that they are my neighbors. I didn’t have to travel across land and sea to find them – they are living in DC, in my town! The realization that such incredible women have come here from across the country and all around the world, from all walks of life with powerful life experiences to share, is without a doubt, the most valuable impression I take with me from EWI. Re-encountering my neighbors and reconnecting with the people in my community at home was so special and a strong reminder that you do not necessarily have to travel too far in order to be inspired and to grow. I extend an eternal ‘thank you’ to everyone at EWI for opening my eyes and empowering me through everyday inspiration here at home.