October 26, 2013 | By Jozlyn Pelk |
My name is Jozlyn Pelk. I am a senior double majoring in Law, Economic and Public Policy and Global Studies at UW Bothell. In June, I was selected by the Seattle International Foundation and the City of Seattle Office of the Mayor to be the first Seattle Ambassador.
I returned three weeks ago from spending 8 days in Guatemala and Nicaragua, where I met with nonprofits and grassroots leaders that are making a huge impact in their communities; each with strong ties to Seattle. This was my first time traveling abroad. As you can imagine, I was extremely nervous and unsure of what to expect. It was mind-blowing to connect the issues I read in articles with the reality of poverty and inequality I witnessed firsthand.
These groups confront incredible challenges on a daily basis; lack of economic opportunities and access to education, high levels of violence and government corruption – to name a few.
Learning how women, youth, and indigenous peoples — some of the most marginalized populations — are facing degrees of racism, sexism and oppression, initially left me feeling frustrated and hopeless. However, upon returning to Seattle, my discouragement transformed into activism and commitment to inspire others to join the fight against global poverty and use our knowledge and resources to make a positive impact in people lives around the world.