ILLINOIS SECTION Message from the Chair
Outstanding Youth

Although this publication will have come out long after our return, I would like to discuss this past August's Global Water Stewardship trip to Costa Rica. For this summer's trip we had a record number of volunteers and students participate - a total of 7 volunteers and 4 students. While I'm sure you have read about some of the trip highlights in previous articles, there were several items I wanted to point out that were of significance to me. First and foremost, the great efforts that some of the newer members of the group have put forward particularly the young professionals of the group. In particular two newer members of CSWEA and GWS that stood out were Liz Bohne and Alex Knicker

In previous trips we've only had one fluent Spanish speaker. This year Liz joined the efforts, and provided the group with a second, and although she claimed her Spanish felt "rusty," I can assure you she excelled in communicating with locals. Whether she was put on the spot with a random conversation to obtain information, or asked to lead the presentations to Spanish speaking students, she was always effective in getting across GWS' message. Prior to traveling, GWS committees had come up with some great ways to demonstrate our goals to young children, which the children both enjoyed and were able to learn from at the same time. Trip participants, along with Liz, did a great job presenting and demonstrating those goals to all students - both English and Spanish speaking.

The other stand-out young professional to me, Alex, contributed in a number of ways leading up to and during this trip - and to the organization as a whole. As our social media chair, Alex did a great job of documenting activities and sharing them across all of our different platforms. She effectively sent our message to all of GWS' followers and members, which was noticed and appreciated by those who couldn't join on the trip. Alex showed ambition in every activity, meeting, and discussion that related to GWS' causes. She contributed to the trip in countless ways, in addition to performing her duties as social media chair.

Having these two young professionals be so involved and engaged with the trip, and GWS altogether, is very encouraging to see. The participation by young professionals not just shows the draw GWS' cause has to the younger generation, but also helps secure the future of the organization as they continue to become more involved.

While mentioning those two members in particular, it's not meant to diminish the continuing dedicated efforts all of the trip participants put forth - from seasoned veterans, other new travelers, the students who joined us, as well as those members who were not able to make the trip but still continued the work behind the scenes at home. GWS' Executive Director, Chair, and Vice Chair positions all put in a tremendous amount of time as well, and provide strong leadership to ensure success. GWS is lucky to have a growing number of volunteers willing to put in the hard work and time to help the organization succeed.

Another part of the trip that stood out to me was the recognition GWS is gaining in the Costa Rican regions we've been working in. Several local publications asked for articles about us, tourist industries participated in contributions, and our presence seemed to be well known among community officials. While walking through the communities that have previously been visited, residents remember what GWS is and what we're there to do. It was extremely humbling; to see those community members be excited and grateful for our continued work. It was very exciting to personally be part of this trip for a 3 rd time, and to see how much it has evolved and grown since the first trip with just four CSWEA volunteers and a Peace Corps volunteer to translate. While I may not be able to travel down every year moving forward, it is reassuring to see how strong the involvement has become and know that the efforts we began with are being continued by such a determined group.

There were many other great accomplishments made during this trip, however since they have already been covered in previous articles, I won't go into more detail. And of course, tremendous gratitude goes out to CSWEA and its Executive Director, Mohammed Haque, for helping make what GWS is today. I encourage you to visit the new website, follow GWS on social media, and talk to members to stay in touch with our dedicated efforts. AND DONATE!!!!

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