Alumni Spotlight: Rosalinda Vergara


Rosalinda is from Tucson, AZ. She is a Criminology and Criminal Justice major with a minor in spanish and in social work at Arizona State University. She is currently the Training Director for the Phoenix chapter of Amigos de las Americas. She loves dancing to bachata, mexican, salsa and merengue. She also enjoys trying different types of foods as well as cooking.

Why did you pick this program?

My spanish teacher talked about, but not to in depth, of AMIGOS. I heard traveling and I was instantly hooked. I had never traveled outside of the U.S. except to Mexico to visit family.

Growing up I always heard stories about my mother's traveling experiences and I too wanted that so i figured this was my opportunity to do this and fulfill this dream of mine. I proceeded to attend the very last information meeting the chapter was having and after hearing what the program offered I wanted in!

After almost 6 months of training and hearing past volunteers stories of their trips I was all way too excited and nervous for my turn. I spent 2 months in the Dominican Republic and I can't explain what an amazing and fulfilling summer I had. I can easily say it has been the best thing that I have been through. I came back ten times more independent, confident, responsible and mature.

I was so impacted by my trip and so in love with the program that I decided to come back as a training director for the Phoenix chapter. I want to get these new volunteers excited for their summer like my training director got me! They have absolutely no clue of what an amazing experience they are about to get into and seeing them come back completely changed and in love with their summer will be the best reward.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

DO IT! Honestly, if you have the chance to travel abroad, DO IT! Forget about the money and not having enough time, I can't count how many times I was broke paying for my trip & all the extra hours stuck at work just to get a little extra cash to also finish paying the trip. But it was all worth it, every second of it.

So many people back home told me not to do it, I was going miss out on my last summer before college, I could have bought a car with that money, etc. I honestly feel like I missed out on nothing & gained so much more! And if I was given the chance to go back and choose a car or a summer with my friends at home I would choose my trip all over again. I gained a new perspective on life, a new family and friends and most importantly I learned more about my own self.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

There are many things I could say but I guess the main one would be, don't be scared. It's normal I get it, your traveling to a complete different country with maybe a complete different language and a whole different culture but this is what AMIGOS is about, getting out of your element.

It's totally and completely OK to be scared/nervous but never let it hold you back from doing what you are there to do. You might never get the chance to do this all over again and even if you do it will never be the same, so go for it, take a chance and let this moment change your life forever!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

I have so many stories from my time in the DR but I think the one that truly made the biggest impact on my experience was when I got to learn about my host mother. Going into community I knew their culture was very distinct from mine. Teen pregnancy was something very common in the DR but I believe it was seen more in the campos.

My host mother was only 10 years older than I was and already led the life of someone in their mid 30's. She was a mother of four, a housewife and had only gone up to 8th grade, she could not even spell. She never got the opportunity to live her life as a "regular teen". She was married off at 16 to someone twice her age and from there her life changed drastically.

After hearing Mami Dinora's story I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to go to school, to not have to be forced into marriage and to be able to make my own decisions on how my life turns out.

I also felt like in a way I didn't deserve these rights. So many times we take advantage of all the privileges we are given that we're so selfish to think that there are people who would literally die for them. It definitely was a big eye opener to me and the most valuable life lesson of all time.

Describe your typical day in community?

My typical day consisted of waking up at 6 am to our pet chickens cooing and Papi Victor waking up my oldest brother Melvin to get ready for another day of working in the fields. (This was also my alone time).

By 9 am I was up and ready to go on with my day, Mami Dinora always had my super strong but super sweet cup of coffee ready at the table. By 10 am the kids from community, my partners and I were at campamentos until 12 pm. Lunch would follow right after, since we had a meal plan we were to walk to the families house we were to eat at and depending where it was it could take us 2-10 minutes walking.

The rest of the day was basically free and our go to, if it didn't rain, was to head out to the river with the youth. We usually spent at least 3-4 hours talking, eating mangoes and swimming before we head back home to shower and continue with our nights.