Monday, July 19, 2010

Back in Estados Unidos

Though our trip to El Salvador has ended, I thought I should end with a blog post...

I have traveled before, taken trains to Boston and planes as far way as Paris, and every time the scenery grew familiar, I remember thinking of the comfort and pleasure I have in coming home. However, when the plane window began to frame pictures of Newport, I didn't feel the same feeling. During the trip, I met some of the most vibrant, animated, friendly and loving people and the energy they radiated and the atmosphere they created was gone with El Salvador. I was accepted in an instant and never once was I afraid to dance to Shakria or stutter out Spanish in front of fifty youth. And once I did, I was only met with smiles, laugher and praising. Perhaps, I can go back to Latin America, which I already prefer over Europe, but will it ever be the same? The food, the music and the culture will of course persist, but the atmosphere of the conference will not. I will never forget playing football (soccer) under a warm sun with just bathing suits, calling each other by our countries to pass the ball or exchanging thoughts through three different languages. Now the circle that was "Somos Voces, Somos Regions" (the name of the conference) has re-dispersed back to the thirteen American countries and settled back into routines. And knowing that I might never see my Plan peers again is saddening. We are still though, a region, and I want us to continue to work together as youth to keep this up.
I decided that once I captured a place full of this indescribable energy, I now know I need to find it again. Even if it's in small doses, playing football again or dancing to salsa will bring El Salvador back. I found that I need to be around more people like those in El Salvador, and that vibe is what I need. I think this need to recapture this energy, will inspire me to take more risks in the future, travel to Latin America again, work to help others, learn Spanish and find who I want to be. Someone once told me, find what makes you fly and go with it, this trip has given me the motivation and courage to do just that. Telling my dad this, he responded, "you have your whole life ahead of you," and he is right, I do. I can do whatever I want, and I already find myself itching to get out of here and into the sky.

Shout outs to Kate and John, the best chaperons as well as Plan El Salvador for coordinating an amazing event and Plan International for bringing all its youth together and promoting our voices, our stories and our power, for hosting an incredible environment and never once doubting its youth.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This is it :)

Amazing no? We went to the Mayan Ruins in El Salvador. It took my breath away. I’ve never seen anything like it. I just couldn’t believe I was standing in a place so full of history and culture.
This whole experience has been amazing. I've learned so much and have met such amazing people who will always hold a place in my heart. I think that I've grown so much from this. I've got to admit that I was very nervous when I first came but I've grown to love this place. I'm sure going to miss seeing the mountain on my way to breakfast. I just can't wait to see how all the other countries are doing two months from now. Best of luck and thank you El Salvador for being so Awesome!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


My head is spinning with all the activity and ideas that have been generated during the first two days of the conference. A few of the thoughts swirling around are:

- How much I admire and respect the 4 YUGA members who are the ambassadors for the USNO at this conference. I know that they have struggled with figuring out their place as youth from a national office versus youth from program countries. From an outsider's perspective I feel that they done an excellent job of finding overlap and discovering new opportunities to move the mission of YUGA forward.

- Pupusas make a excellent breakfast food

- The view from my bedroom window in Providence is going to pale in comparison to waking up with a view of the countryside of El Salvador.

- ROA has endless songs and icebreakers to get the energy a person who does not willingly participate in icebreakers, I find myself wanting to participate...and I think the songs will be stuck in my head for weeks to come.

- Police escorts make moving through morning traffic in San Salvador much quicker.

- El Salvador makes the best hot chocolate

- Youth involved with Plan's programs are some of the most dynamic, passionate, intelligent, caring and inclusive youth I have ever met...I am honored that I am invited to hang out with them.

- I wish that all Plan staff and supporters could experience what I am experiencing right now...this is what Plan is all about: a global network of youth leaders fully participating, shaping their involvement and their future, using their voice and their experiences to move Plan forward!

- If they keep giving us hot chocolate and pupusas I may never leave!!!

Yo quiero El Salvador

I haven't written in a few days, we've been so busy! Our conference started Monday, but we all ate dinner together on Sunday night. It's so overwhelming to speak a different language than everyone else; now we know how the international campers at YUGA camp feel. It's a great experience, but it's exhausting. We have two great translators, though, and we can communicate a little with gestures and the few words of Spanish we know. I wish I had taken Spanish in school! But, because it's difficult to communicate with each other, I think our bonds are stronger because we put a greater effort into communicating. Like last night, Sara and I talked to two Columbian youth, Jhon and Andres, through Google Translator. I am so amazed by what the youth here say and do. At first, everyone was laughing and being crazy and having fun, but then the conference started and we saw how intelligent and insightful they really are. They have a real sense of duty and responsibility to the world and their communities.
I don't know who is reading this, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank El Salvador, their Plan office, and their youth. This is truly an experience that can not be replicated, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Follow the Live Video Stream Today

UPDATE: (7/14/2010) The Live UStream is up to almost 100% streaming capability today, Wednesday, July 14, 2010. Live Stream!

Sorry for the glitching on the Live Stream - they/we're working on it! Hopefully we'll get it re-uploaded later without the lag:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Somos Voces Somos Región Facebook Page

[UPDATE] Both the Twitter feed and the Facebook Like Box have been embedded on the Website | ESO!

Somos Voces Somos Región has a brand new Facebook Page - Click the Like button below to Get Connected! Hopefully we'll get it embedded on the website tomorrow at

"Somos Voces Somos Región!"

Today has been an such an amazing and overwhelming day. All the kids came in today and it has been so much fun meeting them. It's only our first day and we already seem like a big family. We just got back from a dinner full of laughter, food and translations. The different languages here are Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, and Creole to name a few. What blows me away is the fact that although we all speak different languages, a simple smile can bring us together. What really moved me however was seeing how Sara, Susan, and Allie interacted with the other kids although they didn't speak the same language. They were teaching each other Spanish and English with little phrases such as "nice to meet you," and "cuantos anos tienes?"
Basically an amazing time. Can't wait for tomorrow!!

#SomosVoces Twitter Hashtag

Before the Somos Voces Youth Media Conference officially begins, I would love to try out a Twitter Widget that may be used for both internal and external communications at the conference: The Twitter Hashtag - aka: #

For all of you on twitter, simply type #SomosVoces after your twitter message to be pulled into the live conversation. For those of you who are not on Twitter, no worries, you can still follow the live stream here:

This is a test, but may turn out to be extremely helpful!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I have the best job in the world without a doubt!

I have been hesitant to post to the blog because I worry too much about what to say, should I try to be funny, reflective, philosophical...

One feeling that has remained constant is how lucky I am that taking trips all over of the world with amazing colleagues and brilliant youth is part of my job description! Working at Plan offers all staff unparalleled opportunities but getting to work directly with youth allows me to feel directly connected to to the work that Plan does in 60 countries around the world. My days vary from linking youth from the US with their peers in 48 developing countries to organizing a summer youth leadership camp for youth from around the world to traveling with 4 youth ambassadors to conferences such as the one that officially begins tomorrow here in San Salvador.

The Voces Youth Media Conference is bringing together youth and Plan staff from 12 countries throughout Latin America and the US. The youth will have a week to get to know one another, share best practices, strengthen their skills both as youth leaders and media makers and most importantly become part of a unique global network of youth focused on using their voices to create positive change. The conference has not even started and I am inspired by what could be. I know that by next Friday I am going to take a moment, sit at this desk looking out over the countryside of San Salvador and think to myself..." I have the best job in the world...without a doubt!"

5 dólares!

July 10th
Today is our first complete day in El Salvador! I even woke up to spanish music this morning. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast then burned it all off in the gym. After a dip in the pool, we ventured out into the city! Estaba bien bonito! We went to the mercados de Artesanias and bought a bunch of souvenirs and goodies. After shopping, we ate at a local restaurant. Era muy delicioso! I could definitely get used to eating spanish food :) Upon arriving back at the hotel, we met some fellow conference goers from the Dominican Republic. Now we are playing Pass the Pig, hanging out, and enjoying the view. We will be going out to dinner with some of the people from the conference later tonight!

"Just say no"

This morning we woke up bright and early at eight...okay so that's ten in the morning in Rhode Island, but it counts for something! We all sat down to a great breakfast of fruit, plantains, pupusas, and freshly squeezed juice. And chocolate donuts. After relaxing and hitting the gym and pool, we headed in taxis to the mercado de artesanias. I was glad to see more of the city on the drive there. The mercado was bright, lively, and colorful. I managed to make a few purchases even though I had absolutely no idea what the salespeople were saying. Which probably explains why I ended up buying a few other things that I had no intention of buying. Finally, after a saleswoman had handed me about three different paintings that I had happened to glance at, I looked at Susan who then gave me a few valuable words of advice. "Allie, just say no."
We had a great time in the mercado, though, and it was a really unique experience!
Thanks for reading!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!

Muchos Photos de el Dia

Blog = Web Log | Phlog = Photo Blog

Day 2 | San Salvador, El Salvador | Barrios, mansions and barbed wire

Friday, July 9, 2010


Leaving the airport, we were met by a sea of people. Balloons and anxious faces behind a baracade, signs with names printed on them along with the moist air of El Salvador. Though we were not greeted by the mass swam of welcomers, it still felt welcoming. Grey coulds were heavy in the sky and I noticed three boys wide-eyed, wathcing the airplanes land. They were standing on a metal cage that seemed to be protecting a water pump. One was very young, wearing clothes that were worn, one cuffed rolled up of his khaki pants and black ruffled hair. He was balancing on the stoop with an older boy, and as we made eye-contact I had a feeling that they came to this place often. I, too enjoy watching the airplanes fly over head and wondered if they had ever been in one. We boarded the shuttle and I resisted to sleep to watch the suburbs turn urban, the rain collect in spilling streams and people waive the Spainish flag to promote the World Cup.

John and Kate plus four!

Congratulations. You are now reading my first ever blog!
It's been an eventful few days, but we finally made it to El Salvador! We had a glorious time running through Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. (or maybe Virginia) with Kate in the lead followed by us four adorable children and John bringing up the rear. Driving to our hotel from the airport in San Salvador was amazing, the scenery here is gorgeous...and it's super rainy so the road was basically flooded. We got to the hotel and saw more fabulous views and met the friendly staff. Then I got to my room...I was there for an hour. ONE HOUR, and I lost my room key...after Susan, Kirby, Sara, and I searched the room for about twenty minutes, we decided it was a lost cause and I called the front desk. My new room key is now safe in Kirby's pocket! For now Susan, Kirby, Sara and I are all going to crash in my hotel room, but I have two roommates who are arriving in a couple of days. I'm excited to meet them! It reminds me of waiting for college room assignments...
Well, that's it for now...Hasta Luego!

El Salvador!!

And so it begins. Our first day in El Salvador. Already it's been fun. Seeing our amazing hotel.
The view from the pool is amazing.

Crazy times here so far. Allie already lost her room key which was funny. But we are having a good time. I love the idea of speaking Spanish all the time. The people have been so sweet here. We are going to go explore later and check this place out. Can't wait to meet the other kids!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

El Salvador Bound

The Youth Media Conference being hosted in San Salvador, El Salvador from July 12-15 has a brand new website up and running. After experiencing the flashy intro (no pun intended), Steve Jobs might be wrong about Flash being dead - looks new, bright and engaging - Nice!

While I was reading through the list of countries attending this conference, it made me wonder how long until a language translator button goes mainstream for international conference websites. Check out our translator at the top of this blog - it has kinks but it's good to have a one-button-click away option for full site translation.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010