The Examiner

An Opportunity for a Youngster Can Help Change the World

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Pleasantville native Jaime Posa with Fidel, one of the first two students from El Morazan, El Salvador to go to an American college, accepting his scholarship from USAID,

I have spent a lot of my life doing service work. A lot of my service work has been international.

Every so often, when I speak of my trips to Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador and other locales, someone will ask me, “Why don’t you help here? There is help needed here, too, you know?”

I do know.

First of all, to me, this question is like someone asking why I don’t eat a banana while I am eating an apple. Those are both good things, right?

I suppose the individuals who ask me that question are a little misinformed about international development. I spent the past two years living in a very rural part of El Salvador as a community organization and economic development volunteer. During my time there, I met two remarkable young men named Fidel and Saul.

Fidel and Saul spent 18 years of their lives in a part of the world where going to college is not expected. They grew up raising cows and chickens, harvesting corn and living without the luxuries that many of us treat as necessities. Education was not treated as a priority. There was no gym or grocery store or playground in their community. Their streets are rocky and dusty and the bus only passes every hour to get to town.

Many of us do not know the meaning of “lack of opportunity.”

When the Peace Corps sent me an email that USAID was offering scholarships for high school students in El Salvador to study at a university in the United States for two years, I knew of no two better candidates than Fidel and Saul.

Where I was living in El Salvador, it was not every day that you hear people talk about their dreams or vision for the future.

Here, in kindergarten we start asking the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most children in Morazan, El Salvador are never asked that.

They already know what they will be when they grow up: a mother or a father.

The idea of college does not really exist, for it is simply impractical. Actually, it was unlikely that most of the community in Morazan would even go to high school.

Fidel and Saul have changed that. Out of more than 300 students from El Salvador who applied for the USAID SEEDS scholarship, Fidel and Saul were among the 24 that were selected. In August 2011, they moved to Wisconsin to study at North Central Technical College for two years, becoming the first products of their community to study at an American college.

Before August 2011, Fidel had never visited the capital city of his country. He had never traveled more than two hours (by bus) away from home.

Next May, Saul and Fidel will graduate (top of their class) with associate’s degrees in business management. They will move back to El Salvador to implement community development plans, which they have been working on as part of their scholarship program.

They will change the future of El Salvador. They have changed the future already.

How? Because now the kids in Morazan, El Salvador are saying, “Hey, why can’t I go to college? My friend Saul did it.”

Now parents are saying, “Education can create a future for our children.”

Saul and Fidel are setting an example and paving the way for the future of El Salvador. Children who may have joined gangs will now join educational classes. Those gangs who may have held animosity toward the United States, now see us differently because Fidel and Saul are our friends.

There is a campaign going to bring Fidel and Saul to New York City before they return to El Salvador. The trip is meant to be an inspiration, reward, bonding and networking experience for two young men who have the capacity to change the world. If you would like to join in on the experience, please visit or contact Jaime Posa at

Stay tuned for updates on Fidel, Saul and their trip at

Pleasantville native Jaime Posa is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in rural El Salvador from 2010 to 2012 working in community organization and economic development. She now spends her days practicing yoga, tutoring in Spanish and working part-time as a projects coordinator at a non-profit organization, the World Wide Workshop. She is a lover of spirituality, health, wellness and all people who understand what makes the world go round. Jaime is a social entrepreneur who continues to support her beloved Salvadoran family through her organization, By Happiness.

By Jaime Posa



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