Posted October 03, 2011
As a first year, Diego Rivera '10 was inspired by the political and social aspects of poverty and homelessness he encountered in Washington, D.C. during an Alternative Spring Break trip. During his sophomore year, he also participated on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Utuado, Puerto Rico volunteering at an organic farm and educational program. Finally, during his senior year at Bowdoin, Diego was involved with the Centro Latino Maine as part of his Politics of Development class. Diego was inspired by Professor Ericka Albaugh, who taught him not only how to think critically about issues that affected vulnerable populations around the world, but to act and advocate for them.
After graduating from Bowdoin in 2010, Diego spent a year teaching English in Busto Arsizio, Italy and later moved to Toronto, Canada where he is currently working as a Settlement Worker for Romero House. Romero House is a community consisting of four houses and a community centre in the west end of Toronto. Founded in 1992, it has provided housing, settlement and advocacy services to more than 4,500 individuals and refugee families arriving to Canada. The fundamental practice of Romero House is the community-based vision of 'accompaniment', living together as good neighbours in order to serve as a support network for refugees and their families. Diego's inspiration to work with refugees was based on his family's own experience of coming to the United States as political refugees from Colombia and he recognizes that empowering refugees and their families morally and educationally is only one of the first steps in overcoming their traumas and helping them settle in Canada.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing someone that has suffered so much discrimination and persecution in their own country smile and find in their settlement worker a friend, a moral support, and someone that they can trust.”