Milena Mayora

Peru Leader

1. What inspired you to join VISIONS?

I wanted to join VISIONS because I love traveling and exploring new cultures. Growing up between two countries (Mexico and Italy), I became more curious about other countries’ histories, recipes, music, and traditions. In this sense, I appreciate VISIONS full immersion experience of working with local communities to integrate into the host environment! At the same time, having truly enjoyed working with students before, I am very excited to become a leader this summer and contribute to creating a happy group dynamic. I will just have graduated with my master’s degree when I embark on the VISIONS journey, and I cannot think of a better way of spending my post-graduation summer than with a great, motivated group of people in Peru!

2. What experiences have shaped your passion for community service and youth development?

The experience of volunteering at a primary school in South Africa when I was in high school was quite significant for me as I realized that working with others on a shared project not only increases resilience but can be a truly enriching and gratifying journey of personal development. Furthermore, in my university years, I have particularly enjoyed being in student mentor and event manager positions to organize fun activities and help students integrate into the university environment. I have recently been working for a babysitting agency that offers bilingual childcare services, and it is very rewarding to see children become more curious about other countries as they learn new languages.

3. What is your favorite achievement?

Meaningful friendships! During the past five years, I had the chance to study in the Netherlands and France with students from all over the world, and it has been truly wonderful to forge deep and meaningful connections. Not only has it been a lot of fun to practice different languages, but being in a multicultural environment has also led me to appreciate different ideas and worldviews. The best friendships often are the ones that trigger dialogues and self-reflection, and I am very grateful for the people that I got the chance to bond with along the way.

4. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled?

I am probably biased, but I have always been fascinated by Mexico’s colors and diversity. I grew up in Italy in a Mexican household, and traveling to Mexico during summer was always a moment to reconnect with my roots and with my family. My favorite place that I have visited in Mexico is San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, in the southern part of the country. It’s a city with a vibrant cultural scene and is well known for its colorful markets and artisanal crafts. I have never been to Peru though so I am curious about what this summer awaits, and I would be very interested in visiting Brazil one day!

5. What is the best advice you’ve received?

Whenever you are going through a change or immersing yourself in a new situation, remember that you are never alone because you always have yourself. A good friend of mine gave me this advice when I first moved to Paris, and it resonated with me because, while I was feeling lonely because I hadn’t had the chance to make new friends yet, it reminded me that we are our own companions. By embracing our own company with kindness and compassion, we can get to know ourselves better and understand our interests and personality. This introspective journey can help us find a deeper connection with ourselves and a sense of guidance once we embark on a new adventure.

6. What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

I want to be a leader that students can trust and turn to throughout the different stages of the program. I also want to contribute to creating a positive community environment. On a personal level, I look forward to reconnecting with nature by disconnecting from technology and embracing the moment.

7. What are you most excited about this summer?

All the new experiences that the VISIONS program entails! Discovering new foods, living with a local community in Urubamba, visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu, shopping at local markets, learning about irrigation, and participating in all the other activities and workshops that are planned. I am particularly excited about getting to know the students and leaders I will be sharing this experience with.

8. If you had to give one piece of advice or words of encouragement to someone on their first VISIONS experience, what would it be?

This will be my first summer with VISIONS, but something that I would recommend to someone embarking on a new adventure is to stay open-minded. I believe you can get the most out of a journey when you are open to new perspectives, learning opportunities, and connections. Staying open-minded can help you fully immerse yourself in the program’s offerings and connect with the community you are part of. Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone, be willing to learn from those around you, and approach this experience with curiosity, kindness, and enthusiasm!

Meet the rest of our team!

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