Essay #1: Provide a personal statement detailing your demonstrated commitment to peace and international development as well as your rationale for applying to the 2021 Rotary Peace Fellowship․*
Everything started since I was a child. I was lucky enough that my grandma took me to the Boy Scout of Mexico, a keystone organization in my early childhood development. During those 3–4 years, I learned the importance of taking care of the planet, as well as taking care of the people. My leaders taught me by experience about the importance of leadership, teamwork, honesty and perseverance. Some of the activities besides camping and skill-building, involved recycling, first aid support, and emergency relief to the affected people by a hurricane. As a kid, I was not sure how much this would influence my life, but it was lots of fun and meaning at the moment.
Then as a teenager, I had to be brave to dare to find my passion. Against what the society, in general, asked me to do, to finish my already started university degree and find a stable job, I quit school a couple of times a took a gap year which allowed me to have the space to know myself in a deeper level and start to find, without knowing, the meaning of my life and spiritual path.
During that time, in 2012, Mexico was experiencing a political crisis that leads to the spark of the student movement #IAM132 which aimed to increase transparency and participation in democratic processes. Although many positive efforts were taken on a national level, we still fell short in understanding and coordinating to act effectively towards a more progressive achievement. And it was not until a couple of my mentors, Marcelo Escalante and Raul Medina, guided me to move from Political Activism to a more sustainable and proactive approach, social entrepreneurship by introducing me to Ashoka.org and Professor Muhammad Yunus. It was then when my perspective was widened, and I was immediately hooked. I was guided to find a way to apply my early developing business and entrepreneurship skills in a meaningful and purposeful way.
This was the kickstart of an incredible 6 years journey of discovery, exposure and impact in which I have been trained by Ashoka Mexico, Balloon Latam, DSIL Global, UPEACE, and Yunus Center to become an effective changemaker, engaging in a wide range of projects in more than 10 countries including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Afghanistan, Chile, Japan, Mexico, etc. Supporting directly or indirectly the development of more than 1000 youth in entrepreneurship, social innovation, business development, facilitation, designing thinking, systems thinking, empathy building and other hard and soft skills.
I deeply believe that Peace Fellowship will be a platform to continue making sense of all these experiences gain, and I’d be able to use it a launchpad to be able to formalize, increase and focus my impact.
By Andrés Parraguirre