In honor of the CIEE Work & Travel USA 50th anniversary, we established the CIEE Exchange Ambassador Grants to support exchange alumni who are working to make change in their home countries. These grants are designed to give our exchange alumni an additional boost in their efforts to improve their communities through their careers or personal pursuits.
Program Year: 2015
U.S. City/State and Host Employer: Shakopee, Minnesota, Valleyfair
CIEE Exchange Program: CIEE Work & Travel USA
Project Theme: Disability Awareness, Education
Grant: Changemaker in Action
Andrea is a Venezuelan born and Ecuadorian raised Clinical Psychologist from Universidad San Francisco de Quito. She participated in the Work & Travel USA program in 2015 living and working in Shakopee, MN. Upon graduating and coming back home after doing an internship in South Africa, Andrea received the opportunity to work as a paraprofessional in a local elementary school, Academia Cotopaxi. The boy she supports, named Lucas, inspired her to write a children’s book in order to promote inclusion from a young age.
This grant will enable Andrea the financial assistance to illustrate, design, publish and promote a children’s book about inclusion and disability rights raising awareness of children with special needs and the importance of inclusive education. The book will touch on themes of diversity, inclusion, and disabilities educating young readers from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The project is based on a children’s book written in Spanish that addresses Autism Spectrum Disorders and the importance of inclusion. The book launch event will serve as an opportunity to celebrate diversity as it will host national speakers, including people living with Autism Spectrum Disorders, parents of people with special needs, and professionals in the field. Through the partnership with the Nonprofit Organization, Camina Conmigo, the proceeds of the book will go to a fund to subsidize evidence-based interventions for children with special needs from low socioeconomic backgrounds from the city of Quito, Ecuador. The book will help Andrea further her mission of creating a more inclusive society.
If you would like to learn more about Andrea and the inspiration behind her project, watch her application video below: