She is in her third and fourth year of Early Childhood Education at the CEU of Castellón, she has received a collaboration scholarship and also participates in five volunteering programmes. With an overflowing vocation of service and love for the teaching profession, Mónica de los Santos shares her experiences and reflections in this conversation.

The Nazareth Project, by the Comunidad de las Bienaventuranzas association, in which you collaborate as a volunteer, has been awarded in the third edition of the Cadena 100 Radio Station Solidarity Awards in Castellón. How did this award make you feel?

It was a wonderful surprise and I was very grateful to be part of this great family. I was very excited about the award, as it helped to sensitize a small part of the population about the importance of giving life.

As a young woman, I am very proud of all single mothers who decide to fight for the lives and futures of their little ones with unconditional love. I think it is a gift to have women like this in our society.

‘Volunteering opens doors to experiences that will mark you for life and make you feel fulfilled, since you are giving your time, effort and happiness to change the world step by step’

Tell us what this project consists of and what your do there, Monica.

The Nazareth Project was founded in 2012 to offer single-parent families the possibility of spending a week of vacation with training, inwardness, creating social ties with other single mothers, reinforcing the bond with their little ones, excursions and much more. And in 2017, it started managing a shelter for mothers in distress. 

My job is to have fun with the children. We play, dance, draw, laugh… In addition, together with my sister, I created an educational proposal: a programme of activities and dynamics in which the little ones can develop personally, socially and academically. 

How long have you been collaborating? And why did you take this step?

About three years ago… and I hope I can do it and learn from it for many years. 

Really, I started on the rebound, since its founder needed volunteers and one day she told my mother, who was a co-worker. As soon as they offered it to us, we did not hesitate to sign up, as it seemed like a very nice way to help. 

This is not the only solidarity organization in which you participate as a volunteer, right?

No. For me, thinking of others is beautiful. Therefore, if I can help, even minimally, I will always be willing to do my bit to build a better world. 

I currently participate in five volunteering programmes that work on different fronts and help a wide variety of people. Each one of them is a piece of my heart, because they have helped me to grow personally and to be grateful for everything that life offers me. 

‘With these collaborations I work on essential skills and competencies for professional practice, such as initiative, flexibility, interpersonal communication or teamwork’

Tell us what they are.

In addition to the Nazareth Project, I collaborate with the Fundación Educación Emocional, the Caudiel Cultural Association, the Fundación Iniciativa Social (in which, through its Despierta Sonrisas project, we go to public schools located in marginal and extremely poor neighbourhoods in our city to teach and reinforce values through multisport), as well as the Red Cross, and with their Infancia Hospitalizada project we try to improve the quality of life of minors admitted to hospital through recreational activities such as reading, board games, songs, contests, workshops and many more things.

Not bad at all. What does collaborating with others bring you? 

“To be a volunteer is to give importance to what is important, which is to love and serve others” 

In addition, I believe that fulfilling these roles improves our physical and mental health, since you feel good about yourself.

‘Volunteering opens doors to experiences that will mark you for life and make you feel fulfilled, since you are giving your time, effort and happiness to change the world step by step’ 

I believe that the world should become a revolution of love, and put aside the fights, envies… since the only thing that they achieve in disuniting us as humanity.  

Monica, you study Education. Is there a link between your vocation of service and that of teaching? 

Indeed. I am a Higher Technician in Early Childhood Education and now I am finishing the Degree in Early Childhood Education at the CEU. I am doing the third and fourth year at the same time. 

I think there is a huge link, as you said, since in all the volunteering in which I participate I am in full contact with children.  

This experience in the educational field will help you in your professional future…

Of course, since in these volunteering programmes I plan, manage and carry out projects, workshops, dynamic activities and educational games with children aged one to twelve. 

In addition, with these collaborations I work on skills and competencies that are essential for my professional practice such as analysing and solving problems, initiative, autonomy, flexibility, innovation, planning, organization, interpersonal communication and teamwork, among many others. 

Mónica during her collaboration scholarship with Beatriz Lores

In addition to your career and volunteering, you still find time to participate in a collaboration scholarship in Information Service for New Students. Are you happy? 

Very much so. I am very happy to have got this scholarship as it helps my parents pay for college. I collaborate with Beatriz Lores and, thanks to her experience and professionalism, I am acquiring very enriching skills and competencies that are essential for my future work. 

‘If I had to choose a university again, I would undoubtedly go for the CEU family, the one that has always been there for the ups and downs of life’

How do you make time for everything? 

 With good organization and experiencing every moment of life with enthusiasm. 

We almost guessed the answer, because you radiate optimism and joy, but we have to ask this question: Are you happy at the CEU? 

Yes. I am very proud to have chosen this university, since thanks to it I am learning from the best professionals, not only academically but also personally.

If I had to choose a university again, I would not think it twice. I would undoubtedly go for the CEU family, the one that has always been there for the ups and downs of life.

There is little left to finish this stage… Any professional plans? Work-wise, where do you see yourself in a few years? 

I have many plans… from creating an orphanage that brims over with happiness for all those children who do not have a home or family, to being a teacher for the new generations, or founding together with my sisters a jewellery company related to the ocean, since the three of us are sea lovers and from the north of Spain (laughs). In short, what I would like is to work on what makes me and those around me the happiest people in the world. 

You sure do, Mónica. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us and good luck.

Thank you.

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