Have you ever had the experience of opening your email and seeing one that is entirely unexpected in the most wonderful way? We had that experience a few weeks ago when we received this unsolicited letter from Vega alumna, Jimena Estevez (2005-2011).
She is currently studying Business Administration and Economics at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and is also part of her University’s women’s activist association*. Jimena wrote this to us and was kind enough to agree when we asked her to share it:
Dearest Linda, Kyle, and Emily,
This year developed into something nobody could ever imagine, COVID-19 has changed our lives. I’m currently taking online classes, and so far, there is no future date set to return.
However, this letter is not to talk about that subject. I am 24 years old, and I am delighted to recall the three summers I spent at Vega. These times have helped me reflect on who I was and how I saw the world.
The world is a tricky place. Leaderships are like tides, always changing from one side to the other. I have adjusted my perception of how the United States views diversity, and I realized how some states are very progressive. However, this is not a guarantee that anyone in these states will not suffer from racism or discrimination.
Thus, this letter’s purpose is to thank you all and the staff I had the opportunity to meet at Vega. Your capacity to receive, connect, and provide a safe environment for all girls is outstanding. I reflect that I was always treated like any other girl at camp, allowing me to experience Vega to the fullest. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You let my sister** and me feel included despite any language or cultural barriers.
I even remember my first year there. I have this one memory that will always stay with me. It was in 2005, and all Camp was at Tumbledown. We all had tickets for a raffle. When they announced my ticket number, I panicked. I wasn’t sure if it was my number – I had just started to practice my English – then I showed my ticket to my counselor to confirm that it was the one they just announced. I walked towards the staff; he checked the number and said, you just won an evening with Linda at her house. I thought I was going to faint; I don’t think I even understood what he told me at the moment. My sister later explained what I had won.
Linda, you were the most gracious host. We sat by the lake, and you gave me a chocolate bar, talked about Varna, and observed the sunset and the loons. Even the ride there was exciting! I had a lovely evening that day, it’s a memory I will cherish forever. Emily and Kyle, you were ever so gracious with me. I don’t have any but happy memories of you and camp. Nine years after Tamary, I attest that Vega is a special place because you make it so. Your vision, your kindness, and joy reach the furthest corners of Vega.
My heart goes to all of you in these trying times. I wish nothing but your health and happiness. I have no doubt 2021 will be a year full of blessings for you and Vega.
We are so happy to have heard from Jimena, appreciative that she let us share her reflections, and both proud and humbled by her sentiments.
Her perspective is an important and poignant reminder of what we missed in 2020 and why we are so excited and determined for Vega in 2021 and beyond: to “receive, connect, and provide a safe environment for all girls” and to do so with “vision…kindness and joy.”
Thank you Jimena and we love you, Vega!!
Kyle, Emily and Linda
*Other than school, Jimena has been working at Unidos (Instagram @unidoscdmx)for almost 3 years. It is a non-profit organization that works to create a more positive connection with people with and without disabilities, in order to create a more empathic and inclusive society. Also, she recently collaborated with Tizate for sales strategies. Tizate is a sustainable and fair digital commerce with historically accurate folk art from Mexico.
**Fun Fact! Jimena’s sister, Elisa (pictured center right), started camp in 2002, as did one of Elisa’s counselors, Emily Black (Courtiss) (second from right). Linda Courtiss (right) took this photo on the first day of camp 2002, and Emily still has it hanging in her office at Vega.