Rotary International Youth Exchange is “Being The Change”

Positive Change requires action and participation. Representation of diverse voices in local government create community where everyone is valued and feels a sense of belonging.

Guiscela Perez Arellano that’s her name and she is 32 years old. Originally from Durango, Mexico, located just two hours inland from Mazatlan. Durango is not one of the biggest cities in Mexico and not a tourist hotspot either. Still, it has amazing landscapes as it is just beside the “Sierra Madre,” which is the Mexican part of the Rocky Mountains. Her father, mother, and brother live in Mexico; they have each pursued a career in architecture.

Growing up, she learned from a young age that it was important to give back. Her parents taught that we all should be grateful for the privileges that we have and offer those who are not as blessed a hand up. Guiscela’s family used every opportunity to bring food baskets to orphanages, provide blankets for the homeless, and visit those in long term care who were isolated or not in the best of health. These experiences modelled the importance of service and the need to give back.

Rotary International is based on these same principles: Service above Self. It is a group of 1.2 million like-minded individuals around the world working to make things better, one person at a time, one act of kindness at a time, one community at a time.

The journey with Rotary began in 2004, when she was accepted to be a Rotary International Exchange student. She spent a year in Germany learning a new language, exploring a different culture, and meeting other exchange students from around the world: Japan, Portugal, and so many others. If other young people could have this same opportunity to live and learn about other cultures, the world would be filled with empathy rather than war. This experience also taught resilience, how to adapt, to be resourceful and opened the door to critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

On exchange she met people from all around the world, and some of them are still close friends after 15 years. In 2008, returning to Europe, this time to Paris, France to work as an Au-pair. This experience allowed her to learn French, experience another culture and again see things through a global perspective.

Family provides Guiscela with a wholesome perception of life. Even though her family in Mexico is far away, they are very close. Exchange Student life has opened the door to an expanding family around the world. She has her mom, a Canadian mom and a German mom, countless siblings, and a vast support network.

She studied Public Relations in Guadalajara, Mexico, likes fashion, as well as event management. She earned a certificate as an Image Consultant and while studying, decided to run for student council and was elected as Vice President for a two-year term.

After graduating with a degree in Public Relations, Guiscela returned to Durango and taught Public Relations, German, English, and French for 2 years. In December 2012, she embarked for Canada. Her career in Canada started as a nanny with some incredible families. With her permanent residence in hand she started working in IT.

Continuing her Rotary career she joined the Rotary Club of Edmonton Whyte Avenue. The Rotary Club allowed her to serve the community, and take advantage of the many professional development and mentorship opportunities available. Guiscela was asked to join the District Youth Services team, worked closely with the Youth Exchange Program, and worked with the young professionals in Rotaract. She was able to attend the Rotary International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in 2017. While there, the group was able to experience first hand the challenges faced throughout the civil rights movement as well as the life and journey of Martin Luther King Jr. Today, these learnings are more valuable than ever.

Rotary continued to provide new experiences at two Zone Conferences: Winnipeg 2016 with a highlight on the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and Montreal 2018 where she had the opportunity to speak with Rotary International President Barry Rassin.

In May 2019, Guiscela proudly became a Canadian Citizen. Moving to Canada and leaving everything behind had not been easy. She says, “ living abroad has given me a global perspective on important human rights issues. Being a Canadian and living in Edmonton will truly provide opportunities to make a difference. All of this has made her realize how important it is to give back to our community in different ways”.

Her takeaway, “We want a world where we can be proud to raise kids, where there is no racism, injustice, and where people do not have to suffer. Girls have equal access to education, career opportunities, and equal pay. We should all strive to create a society where diversity is a strength, we are truly inclusive, every voice counts, and there is a safe place of belonging for all”.

Change starts with ourselves. How do you create change? How do we create change together?

The people who know her, know that she stands up to injustice no matter how big or small. She has an effective voice, and strongly believes in equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As a young, immigrant woman, who speaks four languages who has lived in many different places around the world, she has a heart for servant leadership and a global perspective. Having witnessed and lived first hand she truly understands the barriers faced by marginalized communities. Guiscela cares about our future, the community, our global society, and our environment.

In order to create a community that is strong, it is important to have a diverse representation at all levels of government. She has chosen to use her strengths, life experience, and strong work ethic to be a candidate for Edmonton City Council in Ward Pihesiwin and represent all of the voices that are a part of it; her goal is to build a better community together and offer her voice so that all may be heard. Guiscela Perez Arellano

Release ID: 89041944