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,
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.