Ponderosa alum returns for Human Rights Week
PARKER – Ponderosa High School (PHS) recently hosted its Eighth Annual Human Rights Week. The five-day event is always packed with speakers and film screenings aimed at educating students and the community about local and global issues. This year one of the speakers was a recent Ponderosa graduate, who has had the opportunity to see some of the issues first-hand.
Natalie Walter (PHS Class of 2012) may only be a senior in college, but she is already making a difference. While working towards a double major in International Affairs and Political Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, she has been involved with a number of global non-profit organizations, including Peace Not Walls, the Conflict Information Consortium and GlobeMed.
During her sophomore year in college she was part of an effort that raised $34,000 to support GlobeMed’s partnership with Himalayan Health Care, a small non profit that works to provide medical care to very remote areas of rural Nepal, where people do not have running water or electricity, let alone hospitals or even health clinics.
Recently, as part of an internship, she had the opportunity to travel to Nepal to see the conditions first hand. It was quite a culture shock. Walter says it took a 3-day walk just to get to the villages.
“It was a lot to take in. Obviously, things are very different in rural Nepal than they are in Boulder or Parker,” Walter said. “Things that I certainly take for granted like roads are not a reality out there. They are up in the mountains. The roads wash out with the monsoon every year.”
Walter says her perspective changed during a trip to Kenya when she was 17 years old.
“Coming back from that, I had a desire to see more equity in the world. I was aware that most places in the world are not very much like Parker at all,” Walter said.
Ponderosa’s Peace Jam and Unicef clubs, as well as the Human Rights Week events helped to solidify her course.
“For me, to be able to start asking these questions when I was younger, before I was in college, has been important to me in college and I know it will continue to have an impact on the rest of my life after I graduate as well,” Walter said.
“I’m coming from a place just a few years down the road from them,” Walter said. “I’m hoping to have a discussion with them. I want to talk and see what we can learn from one another.”
The discussion was expected to focus on the following questions:
- What are examples of ways they make a difference in the communities around them?
- How would they like to expand their work?
- What sort of support do we need as young people, and where can we seek it?
- Why is it so difficult to make a difference?
She knows, from her own experience, that many Ponderosa students are already involved in their communities, as well as communities abroad.
“What I see is that young people are often very passionate about making a difference in the world,” Walter said.
She encourages those that want to help to come from a place of learning, by first listening to those involved.
“Come from a place of humility, being open minded. Be open to learn,” Walter said. “I feel that we often won't have answers before we really understand what the problem is.”
Walter says it is important to support organizations that model this type of collaboration and partnership.