Good day! My name is Alessia Alessandra, founder of the de Borbón Foundation. I was born on December 1st of 2001 and was raised in New York State. Throughout my life, I have always loved reading, writing, and involving myself into public service. I have been brought to this world with the belief that there is more power in youth than one might think. We are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today. My mission is to bring awareness to young minds that they no longer have to say to themselves “When I grow up, I want to…” because they have the ability to start taking action now.
Learning has always been a very important part of my life. I am one who strongly believes that a strong education can help lead to a good future. With education, we can provide the tools young leaders need to start making a positive in the world. Kinderhauss Montessori School was the beginning of, not only my Montessori school attendance, but my education experience. I stayed at Kinderhauss from preschool to kindergarten until my teachers recommended that I attend a larger Montessori school with more opportunities for me. At this Montessori school now known as Hawk Meadow, I was able to skip 2nd and 4th grade, and was class president of the upper and lower elementary classes. Since Hawk Meadow was only teaching few middle-school students and I was looking for a bigger school. I moved to a different, non-Montessori school, where I was introduced to a new environment. Though being larger than Hawk Meadow, the new school was still very small with only 6 students in my 6th grade class. Some of my teachers were nice, some not as much, but in the end, I could not help but feel that I was missing something. At Hawk Meadow, you learn at your own pace, no matter your grade, so you can be constantly challenged and never feel that you are lagging or are too far ahead. Because of this opportunity that I had at Hawk Meadow, I felt that I should learn as much as I can. At this new school, though, you were assigned the same work as everyone else in your class, even if you found the classes too easy or too hard. I missed the feeling of being challenged and the excitement, the feeling of getting a question right that you had been working so hard on. I can still remember the time that I was the only student who passed an English test, and so the material had to be re-taught to the class again. I was told to sit aside for a few weeks until the rest of the students could pass the test. After my one-year stay at this school, I moved to Washington Montessori School in New Preston, Connecticut. Washington Montessori was the closest Montessori school that taught middle school, and it was an hour and a half of a drive away from where I lived. I must thank my father immensely for driving me such a distance every single day, no matter what the weather was like, so that I could have a better education. Washington Montessori was a great school. I was back to learning at my own pace, and I felt happier. I stayed at Washington Montessori for two years before I moved to Kent School in 2014. Now, at fifteen years old, I currently attend Kent School as a 6th former (12th grade/senior in high school). My experiences in schools, good and bad, have all ended for the better.
The Montessori Model United Nations has always been a huge part of my life. I was introduced to the MMUN when I was in 5th grade at Hawk Meadow Montessori School in 2011. The MMUN was a program that Hawk Meadow’s 4th and 5th graders attended every year. During my first year, I was represented the Republic of Mauritius at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The topics that I studied there included Protection Against Products Harmful to Health and the Environment, and Technical Assistance for Implementing the International Conventions and Protocols Relating to Terrorism. The next year (2012), I was representing the Republic of Korea at the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the topics I studied were Enhancing the Humanitarian Assistance in Regions of Natural Disasters— The Situation in Japan, and Improving the Quality of and Access to Drinking Water. In 2013 at Washington Montessori, I was representing the Republic of Nigeria at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF 1). The first time I attended the MMUN conferences, I was quiet and extremely nervous. I did not know when to speak, how to speak, or what to do. After the first hour, though, I loved it, and I still do. I love the concept that children at our age can be doing something as great as fighting against worldwide terrorism. MMUN has, essentially, put an end to the phrase, “When I grow up, I want to…” I did not have to wait to “grow up” to fight world hunger. Instead, I could be discussing and writing resolutions to help people access healthy meals now. At eight years old, I could be talking to people from all around the world to create a better future for the world. After completing my first three years as a delegate, I became a rapporteur in 2014. I missed being a delegate, but it was relieving to see children who care about the world, and it was nice to be remembered of my past self. After that, I became a Senior Secretariat for the following two years. This 2017, I attended the MMUN Middle School Conferences in New York City as a Chair (formerly known as President). I am very much looking forward to coming back to the conferences as a Chair this March 2018.
Aside from the MMUN, I have always been interested in philanthropy. My father took me to many fundraisers including the McElroy Foundation and the Wildlife Trust Foundation. When I was six years old, I was in a severe car accident in which I had to be taken to a hospital. I was strapped onto a stretcher in the hospital hallways for hours as I waited until I could leave back home. Instead of being taken to the trauma centre, I was left in the hallway because the hospital did not have a room in their trauma center for children. After I left the hospital, I knew that there would be many more children waiting on a stretcher in that hallway after me, and many might even be going through worse cases. I felt that a child would never forget an experience like that, and that the experience might even permanently traumatize a child. Coming back from the hospital, I wanted to donate an entire hospital that would be dedicated to children. However, at six years old, I did not realise that this would cost more than I could give. With the advice and full support of my parents, I decided to donate a room for children in the trauma center so that no child in that hospital would have to go through the same experience. Ten months later, I was cutting the ribbon for the new room. I was so happy with what I had done, and this was the start to my philanthropic interest. Coming back from the MMUN, I was even more inspired to do greater things. I started my first two foundations: Take the CAN out of CANdy and Help Mothers on Mothers’ Day. Take the CAN out of CANdy was a non-profit organization that collected cans in the month of October for local food banks. My second foundation, Help Mothers on Mothers’ Day, collected money donations during the month of May to support Free the Children, an organization created by Craig and Marc Kielburger. My father used to take me to the impoverished villages in the Dominican Republic to, not only distribute food to the locals, but to also cook with them. Those priceless memories will forever remain very dear to my heart and they made me promise myself to do more to help others.
Through the MMUN, I was able to meet Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi and 40th most powerful woman in the world. She became my mentor and my friend. In fact, she is the reason why I now have the de Borbón Foundation. When we first spoke, I told her about my foundations, and she responded with some advice. Instead of running local charities for a month out of the year, why not start one large foundation that can help anyone, anywhere? That is exactly what I did. The de Borbón Foundation is now a foundation that helps support other organisations such as the Joyce Banda Foundation Initiative (JBFI), The Jack Brewer Foundation, and AIME Mentoring. At the moment, I have created three partnerships. One is with Her Excellency’s foundation to focus on helping pregnant women in Africa. There are so many women who walk long distances to their nearest hospitals outside of their home villages, but are then rejected by the hospitals because they do not have the ten dollars to give birth there. Instead, they walk back home and give traditional births, which are extremely dangerous to both the baby and the mother. With the help of the JBFI, we are adopting clinics so that women can give birth safely and in sanitary conditions, free of charge. The second is with Jack Manning and his AIME Mentoring. AIME is an education program founded in Australia that gives indigenous students with great potential the skills they need in order to go forth with their ventures and succeed. The third partnership we have is with former NFL player Jack Brewer and The Jack Brewer Foundation, whose core principle is “Empowering From Within.” The Jack Brewer Foundation is taking action in helping people in Hati get access to food, medicine, and education. I also met Jack Brewer at the MMUN Conferences in New York City, and I am honoured to announce my partnership with his organisation.
Currently, the de Borbón Foundation is working on several projects. With the JBFI, we are donating school uniforms to students in Africa who cannot take advantage of their free primary education without uniforms, which their families cannot afford. We are going school by school to ensure that every student attending has a uniform so that he or she can go to classes. In addition, I am currently trying to find more ways to get young minds involved in public service. I believe that, if a student is in a community where helping others is normal, that student is more likely to want to help others. I want to normalise giving. I want young people to feel that it is their responsibility to give back to their community rather than it being something that only few people get involved with.
We are off to a great start, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the de Borbón Foundation blossoms.