• Alumni Bios

Nick Dagostino

King's University College, Ecuador, 2010

Current occupation: Strategic Engagement Manager for Access Now

Intercordia had a profound personal, professional, and intellectual impact on me. From my first day in Ecuador, to over five years later well into my professional career, my experience with Intercordia has fostered tremendous change in my perspective, my values, and the virtues I strive for. My global empathy was reinforced after living and working within a community that previously I shared nothing in common (or so I initially thought). My experience as a farmer and brickmaker taught me real lessons about the virtue of hard work, craftsmanship, and the value of community projects.

Intellectually, Intercordia curated a new curiosity to explore unfamiliar concepts of identity, social movements, and citizen networks. I began using more nuance in my academic work and passion projects, combining my existing interest in technology to the indigenous political movements I was exposed to. As a result, my career in internet & human rights, the use of technology by citizen campaigns, and the digital divide is not only promising, it's fulfilling. I have Intercordia to thank for much of my personal, intellectual, and professional growth since 2010, and I suspect the experience will remain a fundamental part of me for quite some time.

 

Amy Wood

King's University College, Honduras, 2011

Current occupation: PhD Student, University of Toronto Department of Political Science

In Taulabe, Honduras I lived with host three siblings, wise grandmother dona Irma, and our dog Pelusa (‘fluff’). In the mornings I taught the recorder to children at the Escuela Rodas Alvarado public school (and they could play a mean rendition of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On!). In the afternoons I practiced Spanish with my sisters, goofed around with my nine-year brother, and sat on the back porch with Irma. Dona Irma had experienced great loss in her life but faced each day with amazing strength and courage. Our relationship has had significant and lastingimpact on my life. To my surprise she has recently downloaded WhatsApp, and now we can chat more easily.

My Intercordia experience has also affected my career path. When I was in Honduras, Stephen Harper was also there, signing a bilateral free trade agreement with the country under the banner “open for business.” At the same time, Canada’s extractive activities in Latin America were under heavy criticism by activists and affected communities. I continue to research issues of trade and investment between unequal partners, and the role of civil society participation, as a PhD studentat the University of Toronto.

 

Klaire Gain

 

King's University College, Ecuador, 2013

Current occupation: Masters Student in Social Justice and Equity Studies at Brock University

In 2013, I had the opportunity to spend three months in Ecuador with Intercordia and it was truly one of the most life changing journeys I have ever embarked on. Intercordia changed me in many ways. Through the many struggles, smiles, tears, hugs and 'te amos' I developed incredible relationships. I made an unbreakable bond with my Ecuadorian family, who opened their home to me, loved me unconditionally and cared for me like their own. I created loving, life-giving friendships with the teachers and children I worked alongside at a school for youth with disabilities. I strengthened my relationship with nature, who allowed me to sit, reflect andmeditate beneath her mountains, volcanoes, sun and stars, and I created a new relationship with myself, one based on discovering true self-love and self-worth. I strongly believe that if everyone had the opportunity to participate in this program the world would be a brighter place. I am forever grateful to Intercordia for providing me with the opportunity to discover love, friendship and solidarity in such a meaningful way.

 

Courtney Vaughan

King's University College, Dominican Republic,2013

Current occupation: Teaching Assistant for King's Social Justice and Peace Studies Program

Intercordia has had a profound effect on my development as an academic, a worker for social justice, and as a holistic human-being who is more in tune with herself. The experience has given me the ability to more easily embrace my reality and the reality of others in situations unfamiliar to me. Having worked in Uganda, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic, it has become quite evident that my experience with Intercordia has been invaluable to my progression professionally. As I encounter others working in settings foreign to them, struggling with interacting and integrating in a new culture and language, it has become clear to me that my time with Intercordia instilled within me a compass with which I can navigate through these types of situations: a compass which leads me to meaningful relationships, both professional and personal. It has encouraged me to be vulnerable, to question my own biases and values when confronted with those of others, and to act in a way which does not reproduce a colonial legacy. As a Metis citizen who has a keen interest in work in the Global South, this is integral to my personal development: to interact with marginalized peoples in a way which does not perpetuate colonial norms but develops reciprocity and mutuality. Being directly confronted with my own privilege and cultural norms, as they were placed across a different background during Intercordia, allowed me to bring that form of reflection to every piece of academic and personal work I have produced since. I have become more critical and more reflective in my work, and my academics have proven successful due to this. Having partaken in many other experiential learning programs, I can truly attest to how unique and irreplaceable Intercordia is.

Dominique McKee

King's University College, Ukraine, 2013

Current occupation: Employment Specialist

I visited Ukraine in summer of 2013 to work in several L’arche workshops within Lviv for a few months and to live with my beautiful host family. L’arche is an organization which exists in over 140 different countries worldwide. L’arche essentially establishes communities for adults with disabilities around the world who want to partake in daily life together, this daily life consisting of time for work, play and spirituality. Within the workshops in Lviv I assisted in making soaps, bracelets, necklaces, cards and various other small crafts to be later sold. Ample time in community is also spent preparing meals with one another, praying together and existing in a kind of interdependent reality with one another. My time in L’arche and in community really taught me that community is something I had been yearning for for a long time. Student life can often involve too much time in isolation, under pressure and too much time caught in the empty pursuit of validation for that which one accomplishes. L’arche taught me to be and to learn to be loved. I am indebted to L’arche for this. Academically I felt that my understanding of social justice issues really came alive in learning more about Ukraine’s political issues especially in this very politically volatile time for Ukraine. I now assist people with disabilities and barriers to finding meaningful employment and in this have really found my vocation. I am grateful to Intercordia for serving as a kind of stepping stone to this.

 

Nate Little

King's University College, Dominican Republic, 2014

Current occupation: Student, President of the King´s Unviersity College Student Council

My placement through the Intercordia program fundamentally changed my understanding of the world and helped me find a sense of purpose and meaning in my life. Canadian mining corporations have created environmental and social catastrophes in the DR. One of the many purposes of my volunteer placement was to serve as a hub for community organizing and resistance to projects such as these. I experienced how resilient, independent, and successful local organizing can be, and that progress in the Global South is usually restricted—not enhanced—by Western interference.
But I also saw the destruction that Canada has allowed for economic benefit. Affluent Canadians often forget to prioritize the people inside and outside of Canada that are being negatively affected by globalized capitalism, but this experience allowed me to personally see the dangers of this economic and political system. Since this experience, it feels like my eyes have been opened—I see people everywhere who suffer because of Canada’s economic priorities, but I also can imagine a better world, one that looks a lot like communities in the DR that embraced me.
Because of this experience, I have been moved to put my life towards imagining and creating better political systems that honour people before profit. I have applied for a master’s program studying homelessness in Canada, and hope to put my life into researching, writing, and implementing better policies in government while also actively trying to create my own community focussed on respect, sustainability, and self-determination.