For International Day this year, the community welcomed back Andrea Solis Quintero ’14, who was given the Marilyn S. Ebbitt Speaker Series medal. International Day, held at the end of Spirit Week, is a day where the community celebrates the many different cultures that make Marianapolis unique.
Andrea attended Marianapolis for her junior year as a one-year transfer student from Mexico. After finishing high school in Mexico, she received her bachelor’s degree in pedagogy from Universidad Anahuac México. She is currently working on her master’s degree in educational psychology.
Andrea spoke to the community about her volunteer work with the organization, Integra, which aims to create opportunities for the people living in the garbage dump of Nezahualcóyotl, outside of Mexico City. She explained that these people sort the garbage by recyclables (aluminum, plastic, etc) and are then paid for what they collect. They live off of .80 cents a day, she said.
Andrea first came to work with Integra after her priest suggested it when she went to him feeling like something was missing in her life. “I didn't know what I was signing up for. I thought I was going to be a savior. They were all egocentric motivations,” she said.
After working with the people of Nezahualcóyotl, she learned several things, one of which is that inequality is real. “Everything that is produced in the USA, everything that is consumed in the USA is dumped there. Everything plastic that you use, it's there. Every outfit that you buy and wear one time, it's going to end there. It has to go somewhere. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It does exist.”
Further, she came to the realization that she was not the savior she hoped she would be, instead she was contributing to their problems by keeping them there every time she threw away waste instead of recycling.
Andrea urged the community to find something that they are passionate about and to help others. “We all have something to give to the planet. We all have something to give to the guy in Algebra class that sits behind you. We all have something to give to a community far, far away. Find something where you help others. I promise you will find the missing piece. You will find happiness.”
Following Andrea’s speech, the Marianapolis community spent the day learning about other cultures through various workshops. Some of these included traditional Vietnamese games, cartoons around the world, Chinese cinema, and learning about the Middle East.