Homecoming, and exciting news for 2013!
The week of Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to travel back to Argentina, as I do every year, to meet with VISIONAR students and volunteers. This year it was particularly busy!
Asociación Atrapasueños, the local organization that manages VISIONAR scholarships, has always been extremely dedicated and supportive of our program. Their members, mostly retired teachers and school administrators, all volunteer their time generously to help our students, administer the funds, manage the annual student selection process, and so much more! Miss Evelina Feraudo, Atrapasueños' indefatigable founder and leader, arranged a promotional campaign for us during the week I spent there. We visited the local media, business leaders and government officials in order to garner support for the students in the form of additional donations.
As a result of all our work, we have two new donations for full scholarships: One from the local government, and one from the managing directors of local companies (Parque Industrial San Francisco). This, plus previous fundraising during the year, including the contributions from many of you reading this report, will allow VISIONAR to offer 6 new scholarships in 2013!! This is FANTASTIC news for us! Our active student base will go from 5 to 11 next year!
The profile of the new students, as well as the progress of our current ones deserve a whole separate report and will be sent soon.
Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Mr. Martin Llaryora, San Francisco's Mayor, the directors of local manufacturing companies, Asociación Atrapasueños and each and every one of you for this HUGE impact we are all having in the lives of deserving college students!
Enjoy some of our pictures in the attachment.
Lastly, on behalf of VISIONAR scholarships and Asociacion Atrapasueños, I send you all our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! And may we continue to do great things together!
VISIONAR scholars tutor at-risk high school students; and other news (see attachment).
Besides maintaining high grades, VISIONAR students are required to dedicate 4 hours a month to community service,
To fulfill this second requirement, Graciela (VISIONAR's coordinator) and the five scholarship recipients started a program that provides one-on-one tutoring to at-risk high school students at Colegio Nacional San Martín in San Francisco, Argentina.
VISIONAR students set up office hours at the school, where students can come by and ask for help in the areas of expertise of each VISIONAR student. Pamela is helping with English lessons, Maxi, Emi and Angela help with math, Maxi also helps with Physics, and Gastón helps with biology.
Maxi commented that one of the students he is helping is very smart, but unmotivated. So besides explaining math concepts, Maxi and the other VISIONAR students are fulfilling a much higher role of inspiring and guiding their younger counterparts.
VISIONAR and Asociación Atrapasueños are very grateful to Colegio Nacional San Martín and to principal Gabriela Vastik for giving our students the opportunity to contribute through this tutoring program and to inspire other students.
Probably one of the most rewarding aspects of a program like VISIONAR is when a student meets for the first time the sponsor that has been supporting him or her with a VISIONAR scholarship. It is a moment of gratitude, mutual admiration and overall joy. And if the meeting is a surprise for one of them, all the more exciting!
That is what happened earlier this year when VISIONAR scholar Maximiliano Senno agreed to surprise his sponsor, Flavia Lamberghini. Maxi lives in San Francisco, Argentina, and is in his third year of Chemical Engineering school at Universidad Tecnológica Nacional. Flavia, a San Francisco native as well, lives with her family in Chicago. The meeting was arranged in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with the excuse of taping an interview on VISIONAR for Argentinean television.
As Flavia went from her hotel room to the lobby for her “interview”, she did not suspect Maxi was waiting for her at the end of her elevator ride. When the door opened, the few seconds of confusion were followed by a combination of hugs, laughter and tears. It was a memorable instant that marked their hearts as well as the hearts of those around them.
Maxi and Flavia then had a long conversation, but the moment transcended words. It was the meeting of two kind souls, both enabling a dream: one by providing her generous support, the other one by making the best of the opportunity presented to him. The connection was palpable, even to those of us who had played accomplice and were fortunate to spend that weekend with them.
What about the interview for Argentinean television? We are told they are editing the story and fine-tuning the show's structure before the story can air. But that is accessory to what happened that weekend in Sao Paolo: a special bond was created between Maxi and Flavia that I venture to say will last a very long time.