Words by Connie Lewis Leonard | Photography by White Orchid Photography
“I HAVE SEEN THE WORST PARTS OF THE WORLD AND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL. SEEING A VARIETY OF SITUATIONS HAS ONLY MADE ME WANT TO WORK HARDER TO INCREASE ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NO OPPORTUNITY.”
– VICTORIA SAUCEDO
Youth are our future. Occasionally, a young person comes along who shines so brilliantly, the future explodes with possibilities. Victoria Saucedo is such a star. She began volunteering at the age of five and traveling abroad at age fourteen. She has traveled for leisure and on humanitarian aid trips. In 2017, she went to Ghana with Global Leadership Adventures to teach English to fifth graders and to help build classrooms. Last summer, she went to Nepal with Projects Abroad for a medical internship and organized a dental outreach program for elementary students. At the time this article was written, she
was in Madagascar with Projects Abroad for two weeks volunteering at an early childhood development center and helping the kids with basic numeracy, English, French and social development skills.
Victoria said, “I have seen the worst parts of the world and the most beautiful. Seeing a variety of situations has only made me want to work harder to increase access to education and speak up for those who have no opportunity.”
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
Being a Girl Scout for thirteen years, she recently earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award, with writing her own English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum as her Gold Award project. In 2018, the Girl Scouts of the USA selected Victoria as one of twelve girls from the USA to represent the organization at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
62nd Session. At the UN, Victoria advocated for the lack of educational programs in rural areas by attending various sessions, parallel events, and conferences with diplomats and other global figures.
Victoria said, “Inspired by my UN experience, I decided to publish my own ESL curriculum that focuses on professional communication in the workplace. The curriculum focuses on several main parts and scenarios: business presentations, meetings, emails, and phone calls. Each section has reading, speaking, and writing activities as well as a self-assessment to measure suc- cess. I collaborated with Hogar Infantil, a children’s home in Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, Chiapas, Mexico, to carry out my project. My project has been spread to several other schools in the same region. I’ve had experience volunteering by teaching English in Ghana for two weeks. Also, being bilingual, I know the struggles of learning a new language and communicating with others that speak differently. By focusing on professional workplace settings and scenarios, my curriculum
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther”
— J.P. MORGAN
Through presentations at local civic clubs, Victoria raised over $3,000 to fund her project. In October 2018, she traveled to the children’s home and hosted orientation classes for students and teachers. Her ESL curriculum includes activities such as a business presentation section, mock presentation projects with a list of topics from which students can choose. Ideally, the students will need some prior English experience, but the curriculum focuses primarily on the work place setting. Other activities include resume writing, business interview preparation (mock interviews), partner activities where students practice speaking with the new vocabulary, games that can be played with a group using the new vocabulary, essay writing topics, etc. As for graduating the program, the students need to complete all the sections and pass the evaluations at the end of each section. Also, they are under the supervision of an ESL teacher at their school.
The target audience for the curriculum is 13 to 18-year-old middle school and high school students that are preparing for university or trade school. Enhancing their English skills in professional settings makes the students more prepared for higher education and the work force, which helps break the cycle of poverty.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more you are a leader”
— JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
Victoria said, “In areas with great poverty, education is a luxury, so when the kids received the textbooks, they were extremely grateful and happy.” Students who graduated from the program sent the following Facebook messages thanking Victoria for the incredible opportunity:
“Thank you for the program you brought to our home! I was excited to finish it”
“I really enjoyed the textbook lessons! It was good experience for my future and I want to use my skills to obtain a good job!”
“Thank you for visiting Hogar Infantil! I am improving my English with your book! I hope it can improve more, and I can be the best! It is inspirational!”
“Your program is really good for the high school students here! They can obtain real-world experience now in their ESL program!”
“Thank you for the opportunity to learn professional communication in English! I look up to you so much!”
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
Victoria said, “This experience definitely reminded me to keep an open mind. At the time of planning my project proposal, I wanted to be a physician and felt the need to do a project pertaining to health. I was struggling with ideas and wanted to give up. However, I decided to take a great leap of faith and venture into the sector of education. Look at what it has turned into! At times, I feel like I tie my life down to my goals and have to always stay on track to make it to the end. My project has taught me personally to never be afraid of trying new things or exploring new fields of interest, and sometimes taking detours ends up being the most
In May, Victoria graduated as valedictorian from
North Central Texas Academy, where she attended for four years, and is enrolled as a freshman at Texas Christian University majoring in physics and pre-law. Physics and math majors excel the most on the law school admissions test. She plans to practice intellectual property law or corporate and securities law.
“Men are like stars, some generate their own light while others reflect the brilliance they receive.”