20 Years. 20 Stories. | No. 11 with Ivonne Santiago

Seeing Snow for the First Time with Ivonne Santiago

Ivonne’s life has been colored by her undocumented status. She was constantly told no, that she had to stay indoors. “I would hear my friends making plans for the weekend knowing I couldn’t go along. I would also hear how excited they were to visit their families but I didn’t have that same privilege.” 

Ivonne joined Outdoor Outreach during her junior year at King Chavez High School. “I remember my very first trip with Outdoor Outreach, to Mount San Jacinto. I was shy, and didn’t know anyone on the trip. On the ride up I told myself I wasn’t going to talk to anyone. That plan changed when we arrived and I saw snow for the first time. I was in shock. On our hike, I had so many layers on that it felt like I was wearing bubble wrap. For me it was an unbelievable experience that required stepping out of my comfort zone. Returning to the van that afternoon I realized I had talked to almost everyone. That felt good.”

Ivonne recently graduated from Outdoor Outreach’s Leadership Program with 12 other students in August 2018. “Outdoor Outreach gave me bravery, just like it has given me comfort to be myself and express myself, which I’ve never done before. During my time with Outdoor Outreach, I have experienced and learned so much. Outdoor Outreach is my happy place, and if it were up to me, I would never leave.”

Ivonne graduated from the Outdoor Outreach Leadership Program in August 2018 before beginning her senior year at King Chavez High School.

Outdoor Outreach is a San Diego-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides adventure-based youth development programs serving 1,700 vulnerable and at-risk youth each year. Through those programs, we’re helping youth build resilience in the face of challenges, and confidence in their power to make a difference.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.