MAIA unlocks and maximizes the potential of young women, connecting them to opportunities that allow them to broaden their horizons. Girl Pioneer Pamela is a 19-year-old from Panajachel, Guatemala, who is currently in her last year of studying the bilingual secretary track at a private high school and plans to study social work in university. Last month, Pamela was invited to travel to New York City by She’s the First (STF), one of our longtime partner organizations. While there, she represented young Guatemalan women at the STF Summit and led a vocal empowerment exercise on stage.
What were your first impressions of New York City?
I had seen some photos, and I had heard that it was very big with many places to visit. My first impressions were seeing all the skyscrapers and the technology used in the apartments. All of the people I met treated me with kindness, including the She’s the First staff, as well as the other young women I met at the She’s the First summit.
What is your favorite memory from the trip?
I can’t choose just one favorite memory. The trip was all great, as I visited places and met new people. It was special to know that the people I met wanted to learn more about me and who I am. The places I visited were unforgettable, and the trip was a unique and very new experience for me.
How was the She’s the First conference?
The She’s the First summit was a positive experience. I was impressed by each woman that spoke to us and how many people were interested in our education. I met and spoke with many other young women about my life and how MAIA changed my life. The speakers talked about themes that related to our education. It was all interesting because they all listened to our opinions as young women from countries with education problems.
How did you feel leading a vocal empowerment exercise at the Summit?
I felt anxious to see the reactions of the audience. I was able to get out of my comfort zone and lead the licuadora (blender) vocal empowerment exercise. I was able to use my empowered voice with assurance, and it motivated me to continue fighting for my dreams.
What did you learn from the experience of going to the US?
I learned how to do things independently when learning new things and being in different circumstances. One of my biggest dreams was accomplished during this trip because I traveled, got to know a new place, and learned about a different culture. I also practiced my English, a language that I’ve learned through hard work and sacrifice.
At the She’s the First conference, I learned more about girls’ education in the world and how much the world needs gender equality. I really liked meeting entrepreneurial women from around the world who are creating change.
Did you do anything new during the trip? How did you feel?
Everything was very new for me—from the very start of the trip. When I got on the airplane, I felt anxious, but I thought about how much I’ve been through and that one of my dreams [to travel outside Guatemala] was being accomplished. Despite my nervousness, I was proud of myself for each step I took as I did new things, opened my eyes, and realized that there were many opportunities and things to do in each new place I went. Riding the subway was impressive, especially because I learned that everything was connected through technology. Each landmark, building, and restaurant I went to was a new and great experience; sometimes it was a bit scary, but always very fun. I would like to visit New York again and to reconnect with the people that I met.
How did your experience as a Girl Pioneer prepare you for this trip?
It helped make the trip a success from the beginning. Everything I learned at MAIA, like the values and competencies, was put into practice right away. All of the themes that my mentor taught me were helpful. I used critical thinking, teamwork, and perseverance. I was resilient, responsible, and respectful. MAIA has given me many learning opportunities that have helped me in my life.