Four years ago when she was just 16 years old, Sara Parcero Leites was one of twelve people chosen (out of hundreds of applicants) for a scholarship to the United World College. Today, she’s a junior at Macalester College, studying Political Science and International Studies with a focus in Human Rights and Humanitarianism, and she’s the new Restoring Family Links Intern for the American Red Cross in Minnesota.
Sara’s already familiar with the Red Cross. While in Spain she volunteered with the Spanish Red Cross, working as a wilderness leader at children’s camps and training school children in emergency preparedness. She wishes she could have done more to help the Spanish Red Cross, but her roles were limited because she was under 18. “Volunteer roles are different in Spain. Since I was under 18 I could not do a lot, but I tried to do as much as I could. I worked mostly with kids, the elderly, and at centers for kids with cancer and other illnesses.”
As an intern with the Restoring Family Links Program, Sara will help restore communication between family members separated because of war, disasters and other humanitarian situations around the world. “It’s a big process,” she says. “We get a request from a family member and then we try to get in touch with the family member who’s lost and deliver a message between them.” Her plans include sharing with the local Spanish-speaking community information about how the Red Cross helped reconnect families after Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid struck Mexico in mid September.
Sara’s excited about working with Minnesota’s growing Spanish-speaking community and using her language skills to share awareness about Red Cross services. Soon she’ll be speaking on Spanish radio station La Raza in Minneapolis. Someday Sara hopes to work for the United Nations, but until then she wants to accomplish a lot during her time with the American Red Cross. “I really want to reach out to the Spanish community because we can do good work with it.”
Story and photos by Kelly Lynch, Communications Intern, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region.