Group builds cross-cultural exchange

By Michelle Mowad


Two Preuss School students will receive an all-inclusive scholarship to participate in a volunteer program aimed at informing, inspiring and empowering young adults to become leaders of social change within their communities.

Kendra Barrera and Nataly Luque, both 16, will embark on a two-week service trip this summer to Brazil courtesy of Karuna International, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing cross-culture awareness among young adults by promoting international volunteerism.

The Young Global Philanthropists of Karuna International, largely made up of employees from Jake’s Del Mar, hosted a Brazilian themed celebration with food and music at the Powerhouse Community Center in Del Mar on July 2 to raise money for the scholarships. Nearly 100 supporters attended the Celebração de Brasil.

“The scholarship is not a handout,” said Michelle Martin, founder and executive director of Karuna International. “We want to make this a lifelong change and experience. It starts at home. We teach them about global issues. They go abroad. They impact that community and then they bring it back and reinvest it in their own community.”

Rema Christy, a member of the Young Global Philanthropist, said being informed as a teen about global currents is important but it is also critical that young people understand how they are linked to rest of the world.

“Their everyday life connects them to hundreds of other people who are probably culturally, economically and socially different from them; and that their unique place on this planet is valuable and if used correctly can be a solid platform for change.”

Low-income and at-risk Dan Diego students are eligible for the all-inclusive scholarship by participating in an eight-week educational program called “My First Passport.” The course covers global geography, economics and development issues affecting third world countries. Upon completion of the course, students apply for an all-inclusive scholarship to volunteer abroad.

When students return from abroad, they will develop and produce an event to share their experience and increase cross-culture awareness and raise money to reinvest in a social change program in their own community.

“All the classes were very eye-opening,” said Barrera, 16, of Barrio Logan. “It was eye opening how unfortunate others are and how connected we really are to them.”

Luque, also 16 years old, said she is most looking forward to the community service when arriving in Brazil this summer.

“I am looking forward to learning about them and for them to learn about me and to bring something back that I learned to my own community,” said Luque.