WILL Journal Excerpt: Janine Bernardo ’10

June 2

A young woman leaned back in her chair. She spoke confidently, smoothly.  It was as if she had been doing this for years. In fact, she confirmed with us that she had. This young woman, at the age of 21, was the only female representative of her youth organization [La Cantera, a youth group in Ciudad Sandino, one of the most poverty stricken, poorest, and down trodden municipalities in Nicaragua]. She met the president of her country. She was an active member. She helped educate other youths in her community. And she did it all without any support, with only obstacles. 
She came from a broken family. She was subjected to domestic violence for her entire life. Her mother did not understand, let alone support her lifestyle. Her friends called her a “man.” And in the face of it all, she succeeded. 
I have had leadership positions. But I have support from all around me and I live in a society which supports female leadership (for the most part). I am so impressed by her drive, passion, and devotion, in the face of so much hardship.

Final thoughts
The Nicaragua Solidarity Project, in general, has shifted my consciousness. I may not return to this country again, although I hope to, but through my trip I have become more aware of conditions that are present around the world. I have returned with a new sense of moral and civil obligation. I have learned not to feel guilty about privilege. It is not abut feeling bad abut having it; it is about doing something with it.

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