Soon-to-be Saugus High senior Morelia Robles can remember exchange students, “with their unique languages and distinct cultures,” frequenting in and out of her household almost every school year since she was a toddler.
The experiences inspired the 16-year-old, she said. “I’ve wanted to go out of the country and see something that is bigger than myself.”
Thanks to the Rotary Youth Exchange, Robles now has the opportunity to realize her dream and go on a year-long exchange program to São Paulo, Brazil, if she can raise $5,000 in two weeks.
“This has always been a lifelong dream of mine and I cannot make it happen without your help,” said Robles, who recently started a GoFundMe page to help with the fundraising.
All donated money would go toward the flight, visa and other fees associated with the trip, she said.
As the current reigning Miss Teen SCV, Robles is known in the community for her tireless efforts as a volunteer, which is something she hopes will benefit her fundraising efforts.
“I’ve always known I want to help women and children,” Robles said, “and I feel my purpose in life is to help others so I’m always looking for ways to give back,” which is why at age 13, Robles started Bunnies Who Care, an organization that crafts Easter baskets in an effort to give hospitalized children hope and to remind them that people are thinking of them.
Today, less than a month after finishing her junior year of high school, Robles said she is working on completing her high school diploma, “because credits don’t always transfer from Brazil to American schools,” she said, “so to be on the safe side, I wanted to finish up.”
The amateur musician and swimmer is confident that the trip to São Paulo will help her realize her dream of operating an international nonprofit one day, which is why she’s working so hard to make the trip happen.
“If (the public) contributes to what I want to do, then I hope they think of it as an investment,” Robles said. “I will give back in many other ways and, hopefully, people see that from what I’ve done in my past.”
Robles added that she had the opportunity to attend school in other countries, but she chose South America because the experience will prove useful when she’s starting her future nonprofit.
Meeting, interacting and connecting with Brazil’s residents are a small part of Robles’ dream experience, she said. “I’ve only kind of seen what people need in America, so I hope to open my eyes to what people need in another country.”
“I know this experience will help me broaden my perspective of the world and help give me the skills to assist others in need,” Robles said. “It’ll also help this little girl from Saugus achieve her dreams, as well.”