There’s beauty in the struggle, and it starts with you

LearnServe Alumna Daniela Richardson-Ferrera (LearnServe Paraguay, 2011) delivered a moving keynote address at the 2017 LearnServe Abroad graduation. Read the full keynote below, recited as a poem. 

Born on the island of blue waters and palm trees

That’s the image portrayed, however it was poverty to me

SAVED! Packed and delivered to the United States, finally our solution

But as I grew in this country, it was slowly revealed that was all an illusion

It was not that this country was free of “poverty,”

it just looked different here. Here it had the first name “oppression” and the last name “fear”

But hey, I got used to it; at least here I had a quality education

Oh wait no, minorities here mirror how my people in the DR, discriminate against Haitians

It’s like hey I know I contributed to your dismay,

Your struggle is our offspring that I forced onto you

It’s like “look where you were and now look how far I’ve brought you”

I became “comfortable.”

And in came LearnServe and twisted and molded me until I became vulnerable

You see when people hear that word; it penetrates their ego like a sword

LearnServe builds its students with the strength to extract that sword,

Put it in the face of oppression, subduing the suppression,

Promoting self-expression,

Dismantling our depression

thus, illuminating the path of our repossession to be free.

Since that life changing experience in Paraguay in 2011 I have not been able to shake this desire

to be an active member to change the very issues that made me feel lessened.

LearnServe makes young minds ask tough questions while letting them know that asking them is

just the minimum

You can’t just sit back, watch as if life were a cinema

LearnServe tells you to be bothered, stay bothered!

We’ve all heard the story, great, well here’s a pen, a journal, reflect, now rewrite that story, you are the author.

No no no, don’t just retweet, repost or share it

Raising awareness is good but we don’t stop at contributing to the next trending topic,

we’re going to get our hands dirty, dig into BOTTOM the issue until we get to its ROOTS

I’ve always admired LearnServe’s motto

I mean think about it. The world is too small to not think big.

The world may scream “you’re too young, too poor, too black, too privileged, too Latino too

Culturally competent, too “woke” too “insert strengthening characteristic here”

to make you believe diminishing yourself is a favor to the world

but guess what?

Here at LearnServe we don’t do favors, we make social change.

As you venture out into the world please remember that not all those who say they help, uplift

LearnServe is unique please remember to be of service because it is who you are

Please remember that this passion is rare and those unwilling to be part of the revolution will see you as a threat.

Lastly, congratulations LearnServe students, congratulations on being the change you’ve been waiting to see in there world.

There’s “beauty in the struggle” and it starts with you.

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