Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Reminiscing on the past four years, current IBHS president Camila Gutierrez, has written her love letter to IBHS and the community of Bandhwari. Starting her postsecondary educational career as a shy, international student from Bolivia, she never anticipated who she would become - a strong and driven leader. Throughout her time at FIU, Camila has been able to obtain professional, academic, and personal skills all while networking to build her path towards success. However, the road that has led her to where she is today would not have been paved without IBHS.
During her freshman year of college, Camila joined IBHS with the intention of becoming more familiar with the college of business. As she became involved within the organization, she ran for e-board positions which enabled her to gain self-confidence and the opportunity to work closely on a beautiful program called the Bandhwari Women’s Project. As a Bandhwari Ambassador her sophomore year, Camila skillfully drafted prototypes of products that would be created by the women whom IBHS sponsors in India. Upon their arrival in India, Camila recalled the humble and heart-warming welcome she, fellow members, and Professor Wernick all received from the people of the Bandhwari community. “Genuine,” is what Camila best characterizes the women and families of Bandhwari.
When asked what kind of impact the trip to India had on her, Camila described it as an “eye-opening, cultivating experience,” as she was able to witness the products come to life from mere templates on paper. It also allowed her to better understand the lives of those who live in extreme poverty. With not a personal asset tied to their name, the women who participated in the project earned profits from product sales made by IBHS students in the U.S. This income stream helped to support their children’s education and basic everyday needs. What struck Camila the most was the fact that she never experienced these kind of poor living “extremes” until she arrived in Bandhwari, despite being born and raised in a developing nation herself. On the other hand, Camila noted that within this poor region was an overwhelming amount of beauty echoing from its culture, religion, and most prominently, the food, which she claims was her favorite part.
Camila expressed how she wouldn't trade her trip to India nor her time with IBHS for the world. They opened doors to unimaginable opportunities and life-long relationships that she will forever cherish. As she graduates this semester, she wishes the best for IBHS and that future members get the opportunity to experience the enriching trip to India. As she thanks everyone for their time and devotion to the organization, Camila promises to always hold a special place in her heart for IBHS and the Bandhwari Women’s Project.
Written By: Kassandra Perez
Edited By: Lisa Gonzalez