It was an evening that began quietly inside a donated restaurant space in the bustling neighborhood of Little Italy. As guests arrived, they were greeted by a team of Wildflower board members, interns, friends and family to amazing appetizers and Italian wine. Mingling and roaming between indoor/outdoor space, bidding on auction items and taking in the beautiful space, you could feel the love and excitement in the air. The speeches kicked off with Founder, Tiana Uribe and concluded with study abroad student Tiana Vargas. Vargas gave insight to the financial struggles of study abroad and moved the audience to tears.
People move mountains for education and for a study abroad experience that changes them. It opens up all the possibilities in the world and allows them to be global citizens. Connected to the world in a way a classroom experience can attempt, not giving the taste, feel, touch that international travel delivers.
Our first event was an amazing success. Thank you for supporting The Wildflower Initiative. Our deepest and sincerest gratitude to all of you!
Founder Tiana Uribe's Speech:
Welcome, to our first annual Wildflower Initiative event to fund students traveling abroad. I’m Tiana Uribe and I created the WFI. On behalf of the board of directors, there aren’t words that can express our deep gratitude for you here tonight. This grass roots organization is a labor of love with humble beginnings.
(deep breath and smile) It was less than a year ago, I sat with friends over dinner reminiscing our cherished friend Jenny Wyer. The Wildflower Initiative was born to celebrate our lost friend and to empower students to find their voices and discover themselves.
Bonding over sacred memories of Jenny’s strength and intelligence was significant in itself but here I am today to share with you her curious spirit, and the essence of this incredible organization. The purpose, and passion of the Wildflower Initiative is to empower and fund students to leave the safe confines of their comfort zones, to seek study abroad opportunities, to really see and know the world from a global perspective, and to bring what they learn back to their own communities. Self-discovery is also at the heart of this; it is our hope that students will find more about who they are, what matters to them, and how they connect in this world.
Let’s meet Miriam. In 2012, Miriam was an average student trying to find her way after high school. She was attending community college here in San Diego and like many students, Miriam was figuring out life. She was unsure of her plans and more importantly, was asking herself important questions of self-discovery: “Who am I? What do I care about and “How will I spend my life?”
When a friend attending SDSU introduced her to the possibility of a study abroad experience far, far from home in Kingston, Jamaica, she felt intimidated at first and then hopeful and excited.
When I asked Miriam what she learned on her trip, she said, “I learned the struggles of another human being. I developed a loving friendship with our cook, who took me under her wing, and taught me not only great cooking lessons but more importantly, taught me how to spread my love with those around me.”
Study abroad helped Miriam discovery who she is and how to be a global citizen. She is now working with a safe home located in Rosarito, Mexico where disabled and sick children that have been abandon after their parents refuse to care for then any longer. She works with a group of nuns, who independently go out each morning around the community and beg for fruits and vegetables, work day and night in helping care for those children. The children have a wide range of mental, and physical disabilities. With out any proper or stable help from anyone.
And this why, we are all here today. To make a difference for all of the Miriam’s in our community and for all of the jenny’s that no longer have the gift of roaming this planet. We are here to come together and bite off our own piece of changing the world.
The WFI is aligned with SDSU Women’s Studies Department. This partnership is so fitting because we share the goal of empowerment. This collaboration began with Jenny over two decades ago. It was our 2nd year of undergraduate study when she changed my life and pulled me into taking a course in Woman’s Studies where I learned that everyone has something to contribute and say and each person’s contribution matters.
The Women’s Studies Department of SDSU is the oldest Women’s Studies Department in the entire nation, running 45 years strong yet; it is one of the most underfunded departments at San Diego State. Today, more than ever, we are starting to pay attention to the fact that every person counts
I have a 6-year-old daughter, Nyah. She was once asked during an art class to draw a picture of her choice. Something you should know about my child, is she’s always been a bit of a firecracker. She streaks buck naked through the house with her red cowgirl boots, drawing moustaches on her upper lip with my eye-liner and asking questions far beyond her years.
One morning, she asked, “how are babies made?” Ah. The question all parents look forward to. I try speaking to her using accurate terminology. So when she said, “baby’s grow in bellies”, I said, “Well, actually they grow in a women’s uterus. Being somewhat unprepared for this conversation with my 4 year old in gridlocked traffic on the I-5, I summarized the main points. And I thought, well that conversation is over for a while. Later the next week, I picked her up and she rushed to show me her art piece. SHOW ART “Look mom, look what I drew,” I had no idea what it was until she said, “Oh Mom, it’s your uterus.” This memory is still crystal clear in my mind because the picture took center stage on our fridge for nearly two months. I tell you all this story, because we all want a world for the people we love to have the freedom to choose what art they draw in school, who they marry, what they believe in, and how to find their voices and navigate all the possibilities in this world.
The WFI believes travel during the college years can have a significant impact on self-discovery, creating independence and global citizens that care about more that the aps on their iPhone. There’s a big world out there.
Our organization is comprised of three board members and two interns. We may be small in size and budget but we are tenacious and committed to funding 5 scholarships a year for students to study abroad through Women’s Studies SDSU.
We need you. Your donation matters.
Let me be direct. Creating something out of nothing takes people who have grit and it takes… money. Tonight is about celebration and it’s about fund raising. Every single cent you give will go directly to pay for all aspects of 5 study abroad programs. Plane tickets, international course fees, student housing, the bus loaded with goats to access remote corners of the world.
No funds will be used for administrative costs, websites, events, or labor hours. All administrative management, planning and costs are the blood, sweat and tears of board members, interns, friends and family. So please, tonight, be generous. We all have so much. Give to a cause where you know how every dollar will be spent. Give to a cause that will transform lives like Miriam’s.
You can give by making a donation via credit card, check, or cash to either of our interns Christina and Samantha. You can support this cause by purchasing gift baskets, book totes and bidding on our auction items. We are also always looking for future donations and items we can use for fundraising.
We want to you to be part of our community. This community that is inspired by Jenny. Come to events and invite your friends. If what we talk about tonight, has an effect on you, consider donating you time and talents and become part of TWFI. Drop a business card with one of us, or sign your name on our time and talent sign sheet and we will reach out to you. Tonight, eat, drink, connect and enjoy.
I’m so pleased to introduce to you, someone who is here tonight, giving their time and talent. Camille Carter is a Marriage and Family Therapist here to share with us a little about the mental and physical health benefits of unplugging from life. So if you have been looking for a reason to get away, Camille just might give you the reason to make it happen. Please join me in welcoming her.