PiLA's First Orientation!

July 8, 2016

Early this month, members of the 2016-2017 cohort of fellows came to Princeton from all over the country to meet each other, learn more about their posts, and share their goals for the year to come.  Though they arrived to campus as a group of strangers, they quickly became colleagues and friends. They also participated in a historic moment for PiLA as the first group to meet in-person for a pre-departure orientation, spending June 3-5 on campus preparing for the year ahead with the help of staff, alumni, board members, and other supporters.

This year, 34 new fellows as well as 10 senior (second-year) fellows will work with 22 organizations in 13 countries. They are graduates of 28 universities across the U.S., with a wealth of academic and professional experience in Latin America. Through PiLA, they will be working with diverse issues,  such as public health, education, microfinance, entrepreneurship and community development. Additionally, as they learned throughout the weekend, they will be living in totally different contexts: some will live in small, rural towns such as Los Robles, Nicaragua, while others will be in major cities, such as Buenos Aires. Each fellow is headed for a completely unique professional and personal experience.

Alumni Michelle Velez, Mario Moreno, Brian Reilly, and Dobromir Parushev speak to the new fellows about safety and security.

The fellows were joined by an inspiring and diverse group of 9 alumni, who volunteered all weekend to share their experiences and speak on their areas of expertise. These alumni work in many different sectors, from nonprofit development to educational tourism to government, but they all share a passion for furthering PiLA's mission of sustainable development in Latin America. For Kaya Ten-Pow, alumna and President of the Fellows’ Advisory Council (Endeavor Chile 2013-14), orientation  "was a chance not only for me to help prepare outgoing fellows for their posts, but also to recharge and get the energy, confidence and inspiration I need to stay true to my commitment to Latin America."

In addition to providing the fellows with professional advice on staying healthy and safe, the orientation program allowed fellows to develop a palpable sense of community across years and partner organizations. Outgoing fellows left the orientation with a new group of lifelong peers and a strong support system; alumni left feeling reenergized to continue working towards sustainable development in Latin America; and our organization left with the confidence that the PiLA fellowship is truly an investment in young professionals of the highest caliber with the greatest potential for impact across the region.

We can’t wait to see what the 2016-2017 fellows achieve and experience in the year to come, and we invite you to join us on the journey. Follow us on Facebook and donate here to support the next cohort of PiLA fellows as they embark on their year of service!

Program Officer Angelica Hicks and 2015-2016 fellow Casey Ward (Aprender con Interés) reunited in Princeton shortly after Casey's arrival in the US! Fellow Ava Zhang (Endeavor Chile), alumna Michelle Velez (Endeavor Mexico) and fellow Karessa Irvin (Developing Minds) hanging out.


A group of super-cool fellows and alumni getting to know each other after a long day of training.


Fellows ask a panel of alumni about their experiences during their fellowship year. Sharing a meal on the first night of the orientation.