Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Place To Call Home

By Carlo Zepeda

When I first entered the doors of YES Institute, I felt this kismet thing. YES Institute is the kind of place people come in with concerns, ideas, plans, issues, anything and everything. Some people are looking for guidance in dealing with a child who might be the target of bullies; other parents come in searching for solutions on how to deal with a transgender child and other folks come in to explore better ways to communicate.

I came to YES seeking more knowledge about gender and orientation. At one time or another, I thought I knew it all, but boy was I mistaken. I came to YES for the first time to gather information about becoming a summer intern. As a graduate student in Latin American Studies at the University of Miami, I’m very interested in learning about the perceptions and attitudes about orientation among young gay men in Latin America, most specifically in post civil war El Salvador. I want to be part of this great institution because I believe in their mission, which is “to prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of all youth through powerful communication and education on gender and orientation.” 

Since being selected as one of the 2013 summer interns, I’ve been fortunate to attend some courses YES Institute offers. From Communications Solutions™ to Gender Continuum and Deciphering the Matrix of Orientation, all have enlightened me. I have been able to personally witness some extraordinary human experiences while attending these courses. I vividly remember listening to a Hispanic mother and father recount their experience with their transgender child.  What inspired me most about them was how their relatives, and their neighbors rallied around them. Some had even travelled from Colombia to be in the class to learn about gender, to support them, and to learn about how to use this training with their own family. I was amazed by the generosity of YES Institute and by the love everyone in the room shared with this family. Everyone had a tear, including me.

The benefits of being a summer intern are great and plenty. The best part about being an intern at YES is that I really feel at home. It is my sweet summer home. A peaceful place where I matter, and where I feel appreciated. A home built (not just figurative) for everyone to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel appreciated and to be oneself.

Carlo Zepeda