Felice Chavez (07) works for the YMCA, but it may not be what you think.
“My role here at the YMCA is incredibly diverse,” said Chavez, who was a food and nutrition major at PLNU and got a master’s in public health from San Diego State University before heading to Lima, Peru.
Chavez didn’t look into working abroad until after she graduated, but she always knew she wanted to care for and serve others.
“I went into the Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) department because I knew that it opened doors to serve people…[it] would open doors to work to improve the lives of others,” said Chavez.
She now lives in Lima doing everything from leading social tourism groups to serving as a Spanish/English interpreter.
But when she first arrived in Peru, she didn’t know all she knows now. She became bilingual only after moving to Lima and knew no one before she came, but now she has “made friendships that will last a lifetime.”
In Lima, her social development work includes leading social tourism groups that come to Peru from the U.S. to do social work. She reaches out to groups from the U.S. to work in Peru, corresponding between the YMCA’s international programs in the U.S. and in Lima. She also teaches elementary and high school English classes and works with women living on the outskirts of Lima, offering them medical, psychological, and social services.
“Once a week, I go with a team of volunteers who speak on issues such as health, violence, and other topics,” said Chavez. “There is also a spiritual aspect of the program, where the women are taught Scripture.”
Her next project will be to help develop a nutrition component for YMCA camp programs in Lima.
Chavez’s time at PLNU was shaping for her, “I’m grateful for the total experience that PLNU offered me, one that other schools may not have offered: the small community, mentoring and encouragement that I experience at PLNU provided an environment for growth.”
But ultimately, she says that everything she has gained in her new home is because of God’s grace.
“[God] has humbled, encouraged and taught me here and I know that without him in front of me, I would be lost and confused. My hope is that any work I do here or anywhere in the world will always be to his glory.”