Terribly sorry I’m running a bit late on my Introductory blog post- it’s been such a rush to pack everything up, move out, and return home to Houston for a few days (because every moment with family counts!), so here it goes.
My name is Dani Castillo, and as strange as it is for me to come to terms with, or even type out the words that make up this statement… I’m a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences double-majoring in Architecture and Urban Studies. Pause. Deep breath! Phew. I’ve been watching some of my closest, recently graduated friends commemorate their amazing time at Penn and give their long goodbyes, only to realize that I will be in the same exact bittersweet position a year from now! It’s a bit unreal.
I was born in Mexico City, but very quickly moved to the United States at age 5 to New Mexico. After one year in Albuquerque and the birth of my little brother Patrick, we moved to Plano and then Katy, Texas, both rising suburbias lined with not-so-little boxes made of ticky tacky. I feel so lucky to have received the opportunity to even attend such a prestigious university and start a new chapter of my life in Philadelphia much different from my life in Texas, and now words can’t begin to express my feelings about this incredible opportunity from CASI.
As I sit comfortably at home, watching the clouds roll across the endless Texas sky with my little puffball Pomeranian named Andy lounging by my side, I’m trying to fully accept the fact that in just a few days, I will be arriving in Delhi and everything I’ve ever been used to will be turned on its side. Along with my partner Carrie, I will be interning with the non-profit organization Samaj Pragati Sayahog (SPS), located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. SPS has grown to be one of India’s largest grassroots initiatives for water and livelihoods security, and I’m thrilled at the possibility of working in the field (pun intended!) of sustainability. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely passionate about any issues revolving the environment, and most recently, the connection between human rights and climate change. Haha, I remember as a little girl I would always bug my parents to remember to cut the plastic rings used for packaging soda cans because I was worried about the well-being of sea animals after seeing images of dolphins getting caught in the plastic. And much like younger Dani back then, I like to consider the bigger picture when it comes to climate change nowadays, and challenge people to think about how our actions contribute to larger problems, and the implications of our actions on communities not directly connected to us.
It’s so exciting to see how everyone’s experiences are going so far, and I look forward to learning more from you all!!
See you soon, India!!