Venezuelan, Hospital Clown, Enterpreneur, Immigrant, Resilient
Hello, first of all thanks so much for the great show you guys do. I just want to introduce myself and share briefly things that I have experienced and done. They are like cut pieces of my life where I fell you might be interested for a story, or just in case you are looking for a story that connect with me somehow.
I'm Venezuelan, 30 years old, I have 4 years in United States. In Venezuela I worked for the UNHCR, and other organizations. I love working for the community. I was a hospital clown for 3 years,in an organization called Doctor Yaso we visit hospitals but also jails, nursery homes, communities, etc. (from that experience there are many stories about how with laughing we were able to transform a situation in a hospital environment)
I have a BA in Mass Communications in Venezuela, and I came to US 4 years ago as an International Student and did a degree in Arts.
One day I was sitting at Books and Books in Lincoln Rd, in Miami Beach, and I read an article in an art magazine about the TED winner JR, I was so inspired by his work that I wanted to do something like he did in the Favellas in Brazil, but in Venezuela. As you might know, Venezuela is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, every 18 minutes someone is killed. (I actually lived the consequences of violence personally, my father was kidnapped for two months 6 years ago -I have some anecdotes about his experience during that time as well)
So I realized that JR had launched a project called Inside Out, and through there we started with Esperanza Venezuela, a movement that later on became a foundation. We collected stories of 54 Venezuelan mothers who lost their kids because of the violence, and did huge installations in the streets. I coordinate all from here, with a friend in Venezuela. I traveled to place the pictures in 2011. Several Media covered the project, including BBC Mundo. After that, I have continued working in my, now officially constituted, foundation. We did a second project involving famous Venezuelan artists, scientists, athletes, called "Ponte En Su Lugar" (Put yourself on their shoes") were people were visually sharing their faces with a picture of the mothers, that was also pretty successful. This year, produced by a Venezuelan Theater company we did an award winner theater play inspired on the stories of the mothers.
With the foundation we have received three awards, including one from Amnesty International. Now there is another person in Venezuela being part of the manager team.
Now here, after being an international student for 3 years, I worked for the ACLU of Florida as a Public Information Officer. I have deal with voting issues while my own voting rights as Venezuelan were at stake (Venezuelans in Miami have to travel to New Orleans to be able to vote. I have done the trip twice on a bus, more than 36 hours round trip just to cast the vote and come back). I also has been working pretty hard on immigration issues, specially with the immigration reform, and also this time my personal story was overlapping with my professional live (I had to change status from a student visa to a Hb1 Visa and end up in a lottery selection process while working on a big mural to advocate for immigration reform).
So, I don't know, I just want to share all that with you in case you think any of that might be useful for you for one of your stories.
Thank you for your time reading this email, and thanks for the great work,
Hospital Clown Group: www.doctoryaso.com
Esperanza Venezuela Foundation: www.esperanzavenezuela.com
"I am Here" Mural: www.aclufl.org/Iamhere