Social Action and Integrative Learning
School of Integrative Studies | College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Former Student and AB Participant Bianca Martinez Shares Her Experiences

by Bianca Martinez

Bianca martinez

My name is Bianca Martinez and I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I graduated in the spring of 2015 from New Century College at George Mason University. I majored in Integrative Studies with a concentration in International Studies and a minor in Business. After graduating in the spring of 2015, I quickly joined a program called US-Brazil Connect as a Global Leaders Fellow. I was given the opportunity to be a coach to 12 Brazilian high school students for the duration of 6 months online and 1 month in person. This opportunity really demonstrated to me that my decision of accepting the Peace Corps invitation as a Secondary Education English Teacher in Panama was the correct choice for my long-term goal of working with the youth abroad. This is why I hope that with my Bachelor’s of Arts degree from George Mason University, I can continue to work with the youth abroad and help develop educational and cultural programs for their personal and professional growth.

In the summer of July 2015, I was given the opportunity to travel to Natal, Brazil and participate in an intercultural exchange program called US-Brazil Connect, Global Leaders Fellowship. This program had three different phases and traveling to Brazil occurred during Phase II. Phase II of the program was one of the most essential components of the exchange. It not only transformed the lives of all my students, but it also impacted my life tremendously. From this experience I learned how to be a coach, a friend, and a sister. More importantly, the focus of this program was not to be a “professional” English Teacher, but rather a coach that helped to build confidence in the students they are serving. This was very important because I was not a certified teacher and this helped me build confidence and courage within myself.

 This is why the intercultural exchange that occurred in Natal, Brazil was truly a rewarding experience for me where I learned more about my capabilities and talents. I learned that love is unconditional and omnipotent. Love is what cradled this entire experience for me. My Brazilian students were givers not receivers. They would constantly show me love through simple acts of kindness. I was so disappointed in myself because I did not expect this and I had no material things to give them. However, I learned that it is not necessary to give to others material things in order for them to love you, but just being yourself or rather being a coach, a friend, or a sister helps to build a higher level of affection and love within someone’s relationship. This is why it was very hard for me to separate the line between being a coach and being a friend or sister. However, I overcame this interpersonal dilemma and I was able to harvest some time to be both a coach and a friend/sister when the time was appropriate.

Ultimately, this experience helped build the foundation for my future goals. It has solidified my hopes of working with the youth through educational and cultural programs such as this one. I enjoy working with the youth because their love is unconditional and omnipotent. Being able to change and impact lives through small acts such as just being a coach, friend, or sister is one of the most gratifying ways in which a person such as myself can continue to grow and transform themselves. US-Brazil Connect was an amazing program that truly helped to shape my hopes for the future and has helped bridge the gap of uncertainty that I once had pertaining my future.

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