FELLOW OF THE WEEK: SEBASTIAN VILLA BAHAMON

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Sebastián Villa Bahamón is a First Year Fellow serving at Breakthrough Greater Boston as the Student Support Coordinator

1. Why did you choose to serve with MPF this year?

Other than loving service?!! Well I currently serve at Breakthrough Greater Boston but while at university, I had the privilege to work at an affiliate site in Southern California. This internship was my catalyst for social service work and the lessons I learned from my students regarding the implications of being undocumented, of color, and low-income truly altered the way in which I interpreted the world. I knew from the moment I received my first hug that there was something in this work that I would never receive anywhere else. And thus, my passion for youth work was born and in fulfilling this self-actualizing pursuit I find myself in the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship attempting my best to mitigate the effects of injustice.

2. Describe your most rewarding accomplishment and why it is so meaningful to you.

Last year, I served as a paralegal at a nonprofit law agency in North Carolina where I worked alongside undocumented individuals who were victims of violent crimes. In one of my cases, a client who was a survivor of sex trafficking was forcibly taken from her child and he was left in Honduras for five years. With the help of a federal immigration agency and my staff, I successfully worked to get her son a Visa to live in the United States. The true reward of this all was being the one to take the mother to the airport and witness her hold her son again. I will never forget how much this mother loved her son and of course, why I must never stop fighting for justice.

3. What social justice topic are you most passionate about and why?

This is definitely a hard question to answer since I am constantly trying to learn more about injustice, and so what I can say is that I feel the most comfortable discussing the implications of gender inequality. Rooted in a personal connection to my own male privilege and to countless strong women in my life—shout-out to all the women in MPF—I am constantly motivated towards constructing a society where all women can achieve the dignity they deserve. Granted, as much as I am motivated to dismantle the patriarchy, I also see the liberation of men and women tied together as young boys and men suffer immensely from the restrictions placed on their identities.

4. What is the funniest thing a young person has ever said to you?

Earlier in the year one of my students told me that he was learning about social inequality in their seventh grade class, but specifically their unit was on wealth distribution. Certain to not sway their opinion in any way, I only asked open-ended questions and so when I asked my student why this happens they replied “because the wealthy have no love in their hearts.” Of course, there is nothing comical about their response but what is humorous to me is that a seventh grade student clearly knows more about social justice than any egregiously wealthy individual in this country who inexplicably cannot understand the truth of injustice.

5. What keeps you motivated and inspired?

This question will always make me think of my mother. As a young adult, she left her home country of Colombia, South America to achieve the “American Dream”. When she first arrived, she did not know English nor possessed substantial financial means but she knew that she wanted to change the lives of children. I can still remember the highlighted sections of her textbooks as she completed night school and of course, the look on her face when she received an American Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Fast for-ward to today where she is an accomplished Elementary School Principal pursuing a doctorate in Constructive Leadership. My motivation to emulate even a tenth of her fortitude is what makes me excited every morning.

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