Careers in Community Development
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The Beginning of My Journey in Community Development
By Nicholas Salerno
I spent six months in Granada, Spain where I studied the Spanish culture and language. The original purpose of this experience was to learn the language and to minor in Spanish (for my resume). It ended up doing that but it also helped me learn more about myself. I came back to the States with new ideas and perspectives about myself and my own culture through new eyes. I planned on taking these new skills and knowledge and focus on issues we had domestically rather than continue my efforts internationally.
Through my new lenses, I noticed the racial tension that was in my community on the Southside of Chicago. I saw this as opportunity for myself to start a dialogue with residents at local nonprofits, food shelters and other organizations in the Chicagoland area to understand what is really happening. After gaining a better perspective, I realized that I did not have the tools needed in order to solve any problems or deepen the dialogue to a point where action could be put in place, so I decided to go back to school.
I’m currently completing my masters in Sustainable Development with a focus on community development and social action while working at NeighborWorks America. It is the first time in my life I feel passionate because the work I do is meaningful. I want to live in a community that is happy, safe and healthy.