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Thoughts of a PAEF alumna: Winning AEIF 2017
Monday, 11 September 2017

August Announcement! #AEIF2017

The wait was long but it's now official #AEIF2017 (La espera fue larga, pero ahora es oficial #AEIF2017) ^_^

Posted by The arTEA Project on martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

 

By Christine Grace Catindig – A year has passed since my Global UGrad stint came to an end but the lessons I learned in the U.S. are still very much alive.

Last year, I had the chance to hear insights and stories not just from UGrads from various parts of the world but also from World Learning’s Global UGrad team.

In our workshop in Washington D.C., one of my program advisers Roya Zahed said that her favorite word is opportunity. She then went on to explain its significance and how we can use our network to make a difference in whichever scale we are comfortable with.

This presented to our batch of scholars the idea that a person with a heart willing to serve is bound to create more opportunities than s(he) finds – a defining trait of a changemaker. So, when the State Department launched the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund competition, my friends and I immediately worked on a proposal that follows a theme close to our hearts.

We developed The arTEA project, which is a community project based in Venezuela. arTEA is the combination of the words “art” and Trastornos del Espectro Autista (TEA) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The project targets to serve young people with ASD in Zulia State, where the incidence of ASD has been drastically increasing. Through art activities and information dissemination, our team aspires to effectively promote inclusion.

arTEA has three phases. The first phase is the launch of art workshops meant to help young people with ASD better express themselves through art and explore their potential outside the academe.

Next, young people who sign up for the program shall be invited to guided art museum visits so they can have the opportunity to socialize, relax, and feel included as they are surrounded by art. Workshops will also be conducted by professionals to inform and educate the guardians, teachers, and mentors of these young people with ASD, so they can receive much needed assistance and help. While the duration of this phase may not be enough to create a radical change, we believe that this is an immense help to those without the right resources.

Lastly, fora will be held in the last months of our project’s initial funding to create a more ASD-informed public.

In all these phases, social media is a significant element our team consistently aims to use to amplify the reach and influence of our project. Since AEIF values social media and press components in alumni-led activities, I was given by our team the task of working as arTEA’s communications and social media coordinator. My role is to handle communications between Embajada De Los Estados Unidos and our team, manage online content, and write and revise our project’s concept plans and key performance indicators. These I do with Luis Hernandez Ramirez and José Gabriel Barreat, the project leader and project assistant of the arTEA Project, respectively.

So far, our team has been growing and more volunteers are expressing their readiness to promote inclusion through our project in the coming months. We are also noticing the positive noise we are making in social media, which confirms that we are doing something right through this simple project.

At the end of the day, we all lead busy lives. However, there comes a point in life when we become blessed enough to have an opportunity to look beyond ourselves. It is during such time when we should know that we have to snatch certain possibilities with urgency on behalf of those who do not have our set of opportunities and resources.

AEIF is the perfect opportunity to do that.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of State hosted its seventh annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project competition. AEIF supports alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. This year, out of 1,014 project submissions from 125 countries, 68 alumni teams representing 53 countries have been selected as finalists. These alumni will support business development and economic opportunity, encourage civic participation and resilient communities, foster education and inclusion, and empower women and girls around the world.

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