Meet Guanajuato alumna Hetali Lodaya
“My favorite memory is chatting with the daughters of a host family whose father had worked in the United States for years to save up money – he now lived at home and they had a much higher standard of living than they would have otherwise. His daughters had defined career aspirations and goals – they complained about school just like any teenager, but it was clear that his migration, even if not permanent, had created an environment for them where they could have that drive. That’s what it’s about, at the end of the day – everyone just wants the best for their loved ones.”
APPLES Global Course Guanajuato (GLBL 382) is a three-credit spring course that combines ethnographic methods, oral history, and service-learning to examine Latin American migrant perspectives. Students research and work with migrants in North Carolina and spend spring break in migrants’ home communities in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Through leadership development, experiential learning, and engaged service, Guanajuato alumni have had an incredible impact through our programs, and continue to make their mark in their careers. One of these professionals we had the pleasure of connecting with is Hetali Lodaya.
Q: Hetali, thank you so much for joining us! First, please tell us more about yourself.
A: I graduated in 2014 – I majored in Chemistry and Public Policy, and was very involved in the Campus Y and entrepreneurship communities at UNC. Post-grad, I moved to San Antonio with the Venture for America Fellowship to work for a nonprofit that creates entrepreneurship education programs for K-12. I still work for them, though I’m back in Chapel Hill for a year before going to graduate school!
Q: Congratulations on graduate school! Tell us more about what brought you to participate in UNC APPLES Global Guanajuato. How did the experience impact you?
A: I needed to take an APPLES course for Public Service Scholars and was really excited by the learning opportunity this one presented. I went to high school with a lot of students whose families had come from Mexico, but I had so little interaction with them it was like we lived in two different worlds even though we were physically in the same space. Living in Chapel Hill was the first time I had ever lived in a community with such a large immigrant population, and I realized that I knew almost nothing about their experiences.
Q: What are you up to now? How have your experiences in Guanajuato influenced your career trajectory?
A: Moving to San Antonio brought me to another community with a large Mexican-American population, many recent immigrants – working in education there, my experience in Global Guanajuato made me much more aware of the fact that students’ journeys to the United States so often informed the person that they were in the classroom. That perspective is something I think will continue to be key for me in this field.
Q: We love that the course has influenced you in that way. What do you tell your friends when they ask you about your experiences in Guanajuato? What’s your favorite memory?
A: I tell them about the people that I met! In all different kinds of communities, from all walks of life – I learned so much about how migration affects people in different ways. My favorite memory is chatting with the daughters of a host family whose father had worked in the United States for years to save up money – he now lived at home and they had a much higher standard of living than they would have otherwise. His daughters had defined career aspirations and goals – they complained about school just like any teenager, but it was clear that his migration, even if not permanent, had created an environment for them where they could have that drive. That’s what it’s about, at the end of the day – everyone just wants the best for their loved ones.
Q: Absolutely! We have to say though, one of our favorite memories from your class is when you all danced to Pharrell’s “Happy.” What does Guanajuato mean to you, and why should others get involved?
My Global Guanajuato experience allows me to be informed and active on issues of immigration – especially in today’s political climate, I think it’s so important to speak from personal experience and facts. This class will push you, challenge you, clarify your beliefs, and show you a side to the migration story you probably don’t know – if that’s not enough reasons to apply, you’ll have a ton of fun with an awesome group of people! Do it!