A conversation about empowerment with Airalis Colon, Health and Wellness Intern
YW Boston’s Health and Wellness programs work to empower women to take control of their health by offering free workshops and support in community settings. Airalis Colon, our Health and Wellness Intern, works hard each week to ensure that everything is in place for these workshops, including fliers and kits for Kemarah Sika, our Health and Wellness Manager, to hand out to participants. Airalis is a freshman at Cristo Rey High School Boston. Through YW Boston’s partnership with Cristo Rey, a number of high school students intern throughout the week.
Check out our interview with Airalis about her work at YW Boston and her thoughts on empowerment:
Tell us about yourself – where do you go to school, what year are you in, what do you do for fun?
I work really hard. I came three years ago [to Boston from Puerto Rico] and it was kind of hard for me because I didn’t speak English. It was frustrating. I go to Cristo Rey Boston, its a private school. I’m a freshman. I like to play basketball and volleyball, I’m going to the Y. This internship is really good because you get experience and if I want to apply to a job, I can say what I’ve worked on here.
Tell me about your work at YW Boston – what does a typical day as an intern look like?
I enter data. I work to help her organize things, like if Kemarah wants to give gifts to the women and girls, I help her. I do fliers – worksheet fliers about sexual reproductive health and basic health things.
What does empowerment mean to you and how does it feel to be empowered?
Empowerment means a lot. If you don’t feel comfortable with yourself, this can help you a lot.
I feel good. I feel I am comfortable with myself. This program helps me a lot because sometimes I feel down and sometimes I feel up. I try to do a lot of things, but when I see the results, it is not what I want. What I learn here is if you try and don’t see results, work harder and you can learn from your mistakes.
How does health and wellness fit into empowerment? When you learn more about health and wellness, do you feel empowered?
Yeah, I feel more empowered. Of course. What Kemarah’s doing is really good, because they can help other people who need it. I feel good, in the moment, but when I don’t do things right I feel down. I’m like oh no I suck, but I’m trying hard. Practicing is the key.
What do you do when you want to feel more empowered?
I go to the gym and I try my hardest and that’s one of the top things that I do to feel empowered. So I’m comfortable with myself, like I said, when I came three years ago I didn’t speak English. I mean I speak English now, but I have an accent. In school I can’t speak because I feel uncomfortable because of my accent. So there are things that make me feel powerful, but while doing those activities and while I’m working here, it makes me feel a lot of self confidence.
Is there a movie or tv show character who has recently inspired you?
I have a book. Its a movie, but at the same time its a book, the book Wonder. I think that it was really wonderful and empowering. Kids were bullying him because he had a scar on his head. His mom gave him an opportunity to go to school, but he didn’t feel comfortable there because of his scars. He looked different than other people. They bullied him, but at the end they realized they shouldn’t do that. Its really powerful because he kept going.
What would you tell other people who don’t feel empowered?
To ask for help, because that’s the key. If you don’t talk to someone, you aren’t going to see results. If you are going to feel down all the time, you have to talk and see more options.
What more do you want to learn at YW Boston?
I want to learn about how to be healthy, and the way to eat. And improve my English, and my confidence. If I have confidence, everything is possible.