Diya Chopra.

Arajuno Road Project - Arajuno, Ecuador

Project Description

Preston Public Interest Career Fund Recipient

During childhood trips to her homeland of India, Diya saw the effects of economic disparity firsthand. She clearly remembers meeting a group of impoverished children in Delhi at the age of six and, “not knowing how else to respond,” sharing her food with them. “I soon realized this is a short-term solution to a colossal problem and begin to question what we need to do to change this narrative.” In her efforts to pursue such systemic change, Diya worked with the Arajuno Road Project (AJP), which helps to educate children in rural areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Diya’s instructed rural students in English and helped revise AJP’s curriculum. “In order to do this, we needed to build stronger ties with the community…and understand what community members really wanted.” Diya also expanded the program’s volunteer orientation, creating a documentary video to introduce “issues of cultural sensitivity and unintended consequences.” Diya conducted interviews with volunteers and community members and edited the footage. “Although I faced many challenges, especially since I did not have a background in making short films, I enjoyed the freedom ARP gave me to create my own project.”

Although her new environment and sparse living quarters in Ecuador caused significant culture shock, Diya’s experience expanded both her academic and career horizons. “Working with local indigenous populations…opened my eyes to a whole new set of issues” that her Anthropology classes had never covered. Also, “interacting with these communities…reassured me that I want to continue exploring international development and maybe even explore it from a different angle” focusing on organization operations.

Project Details

  • Date July 19, 2016
  • Tags 2016, Education, Environment, Junior, Preston, South America

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