It was late December 2011, summer in the Southern Hemisphere. We were on vacation in Chile. As soon as we got there, my son Lucas informed me that he was applying for ILC and that he needed to talk with someone in the USA to get the details. After a long and expensive phone conversation, Lucas told me, “I have to write some essays as part of the selection process,” and “I have a deadline.”
From that day on, I started my own journey as a mom, being with Lucas every step of the process.
During that vacation in Chile, while the rest of us spent time on the beach, or in the pool, or going places, Lucas stayed home, sometimes going to bed as the sun was rising, working on his essays for ILC.
I saw how just writing about a specific topic enhanced his knowledge about life, about the world, and about himself.
It was the time of the Occupy movement in the USA, a time of economic hardship for many families—foreclosures, unemployment, global warming and so on. I saw how Lucas was becoming more and more interested in what was happening in the world; at the same time I saw how he started an internal dialog, searching for possible solutions.
I saw my son more involved and engaged, with more clear political philosophies that reflect his own values in everyday life.
Finally, after a stressful but extremely enriching interview process before the ILC panel, Lucas was nominated as one of the kids who would participate in ILC at Columbia University, attending a Constitutional Law class.
What followed that day was a preparation for the big day that he and five other students would leave for the East Coast, to be active participants in the Constitutional Law class.
Before the trip, Lucas prepared everything by himself; I was silently close to him.
When he left for Columbia, I felt a mix of feelings: emptiness, joy, and excitement. I knew that this would be an extraordinary experience for him.
During the four weeks that he was there, I had my own routine; at 10:00 am I would have my coffee break and I would enjoy reading Lucas’ blog as well as the other students’ blogs.
I saw how Lucas was transforming in front of my eyes; he became this young man, who started using terms like “social justice,” “human rights,” “freedom,” “equality.” It brought memories of my own adolescence, growing up in a country under dictatorship.
What ILC has given to Lucas is a treasure, an experience during which the kids needed to integrate intellectual work, social skills, life skills and ideals that make you grow as a person.
We are so grateful to ILC for this opportunity that otherwise we would not have been able to offer to Lucas.
Lucas’ younger sister has seen his progress through this experience, and now she is thinking of applying to ILC too, because she knows it would be an experience that would change her life too.
For now I need to prepare myself. My son will leave soon for college, a new chapter in his life as well as mine. In my culture, kids stay with their families when they go to college. Here it is different. I need to let him go.
As a friend of mine says …..”We give our children roots…and we give them wings.”
Victoria Bravo (Lucas’s mom)