So many of us travel for different reasons. For business, for pleasure, or both. It’s fairly safe to say, however, that the purpose of any trip is to achieve or experience something that makes the journey truly worthwhile. To bring memories back home.

Elmont native and Class of 2011 graduate, Alicia Munian, did what most 22-year-olds might not have in her position. She saved up her money for a year, found an international volunteer opportunity, and embarked on a humanitarian journey to Thailand.

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Can you spot Thailand? Elmont native, Alicia Munian, traveled to the Southeast Asian country more than 8,500 miles away from Elmont, New York. [Photo Credit: Pan Pacific Journeys]

We touched base with Alicia upon her return and learned more about what pulled her towards Thailand and the life-affirming experience she had there. Please enjoy our interview!

alicia-and-elephant
Photo courtesy of Alicia Munian

Full Name: Alicia Munian

Age: 22

Year graduated from Elmont: 2011

Schools attended: Siena College in Loudonville New York

Degree/Major: B.A. Political Science

What are you doing these days?

I am currently the Legislative Aide to community advocate, Assemblywoman Michaëlle Solages.  I assist Assemblywoman Solages with attending community events, alleviating constituent concerns, hosting events, and drafting media releases. It is our office’s goal to empower the community of Elmont through public service.

Describe the Elmont community in one sentence:

The Elmont community is a first generation community that is determined to exhale excellence throughout the world.

What is your dream job?

I could see myself working in several sectors in Government and Politics. It was always my dream to represent and publicly serve the United States on an International platform; as a Foreign Service Officer through the State Department.

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Photo courtesy of Alicia Munian

How does your experience abroad, in Thailand, trace back to your roots in the Elmont community?

I can trace my experience abroad directly to my roots in the Elmont community. Partaking in the Model United Nations program from the 8th grade has helped me to gain a more global perspective of the world. This program allowed me to understand the plight of issues around the world at a young age.

Debating on these issues, and learning about them in detail, has truly allowed me to expand my consciousness and recognize how fortunate we are to live the lives that we do.  We can make such an impact globally with small actions, and being conscious of the plight of individuals throughout the world.

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Photo courtesy of Alicia Munian

Why would you recommend a travel abroad experience like yours to someone else? What did you learn?

Traveling abroad as an international volunteer allows you to widen your perspective in a meaningful way. I was able to meet the local people of high-needs communities. I felt the love and humanism behind every person in a culture that was unfamiliar to me.

At the end of the day, regardless of your culture, religion, and social groups, everyone wants to be loved, understood, and accepted at the end of the day. It is often the case that if you approach people with a positive and open heart, they will show you the same.

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Photo courtesy of Alicia Munian

Read more of Alicia’s story below, in her own words:

After working full time as a Legislative Aide for Assemblywoman Solages for an entire year, I saved up my money to volunteer abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) to make a global impact. For two weeks, I taught English to students between the ages of 10-12. Volunteering abroad with CCS in Thailand was one of the best and most enlightening experiences that I have ever had.   Partaking in this program has helped further my level of global consciousness which was initially sparked by the Model United Nations Program in high school. There is no better way to see a country than through the service of others.

CCS is a program that is dedicated to making a global impact, while also assuring that the countries they impact, are sustainable. Volunteering with this organization allowed me to empower local communities based on their individual needs by being a human resource–placing emphasis on the talents that I was able to provide–instead of providing physical resources (item donations). Following five key goals of the United Nations Development goals, CCS aims to:
1) End Poverty – in all its forms everywhere

2) End Hunger – achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure Healthy Lives – promote well-being for all at all ages

4) Ensure Inclusive and equitable quality education – promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve Gender Equalityempower all women and girls.

alicia-and-kids
Photo courtesy of Alicia Munian

If you are interested in finding out more information about getting involved with Cross Cultural Solutions, visit their website at https://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/

Higher Heights

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2 thoughts on “Hometown Humanitarian: An Elmont Native’s Journey to Thailand and Back

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