Ciudad Nueva relies on our amazing volunteers to keep our programs operating. Without people to do all the big and little tasks, we wouldn’t be able to continue the work we do, nor would we have the capacity to connect with our neighbors and mentor the students that come through our doors every day.
This past year two sisters involved in our high school program became middle school volunteers. They really stepped up and made a difference with the students and had a positive influence on the other volunteers in the program as well. Anika and Aranxa have been part of Ciudad Nueva since they were each old enough to start our programs, and we’ve loved watching them step into a new role as leaders.
Sisters make a great team
Anika is a freshman taking classes at the University of Texas at El Paso this year, and her younger sister Aranxa is a junior at El Paso High School. Both girls started volunteering with the middle school program last spring. Despite their busy schedules, they’ve made their volunteer work with the younger students a priority again this year because they love working with the kids.
“I went through the middle school program myself, and Ciudad Nueva gave me so many things that I wanted to give back to them,” says Anika. “I like the kids a lot. I am an education major, so working with these kids is fun because I get to see what a classroom is like and how it is to work with different types of kids. They are just a lot of fun.”
Anika’s favorite parts of the program are homework time and mealtime because that’s when she gets to talk in-depth with the students and find out what’s going in their lives. She remembers how important that was to her in middle school — connecting with the leaders and being able to talk about some of the things she was going through.
Aranxa enjoys the free time on Thursday afternoons, when the students get to experience a variety of activities and also get to just hang out. Time with friends is such an important part of the middle school experience, and Aranxa loves to be around the students when they are relaxing and enjoying each other. She feels that this is a time when she can encourage them and hear about their day at school or any challenges they are experiencing.
Taking leadership to a new level
Without even realizing it, Anika and Aranxa have had an influence on all the other leaders in the group. Their enthusiasm and immediate connection with the students has been an example for everyone else.
“They are great leaders and initiators,” says Lexi Moles, Middle School Program Coordinator. “They take the initiative in pursuing relationships with the middle school students. They don’t sit off to the side and talk to each other; they actively go and play with the kids.”
Whenever new volunteers come to the program, they are able to shadow Anika and Aranxa until they get comfortable with the students themselves. Not only are the girls naturals at leading the students, they are awesome leaders to the other leaders!
“They are great examples to the other leaders, both Border Fellows and volunteers, on what it looks like to reach out to the kids first,” says Lexi.
What does it take to be a great leader?
Both Anika and Aranxa say that their motivation for serving the students is that they are so grateful for what they have seen and experienced at Ciudad Nueva — how much the organization does in their community and for them personally. Other leaders have invested in them and showed them how to make difference in another person’s life. Now they are passing that blessing on through their leadership.
“I don’t have to tell them what to do very often because they already know and are thinking ahead,” says Lexi. “To me, leadership is much more than being a helper — it’s looking ahead to what needs to be done without being asked and doing it! And they certainly do that.”
Would you like to get involved with some amazing students and work alongside dedicated volunteers and staff? There is always a place for you at Ciudad Nueva. Give us a call at 915-521-2951 or contact us here.