My name is Barbara Bakker, I am seventeen years old and I was born February 14th, 2002 in Quito, Ecuador. I consider to have a very international family since my dad’s side of the family comes from The Netherlands. My grandfather came to America seeking new opportunities and decided that Ecuador was the place for him, he raised my grandfather and my great-aunt and taught them that the most valuable virtues were to be humble and generous at all times. Due to a great amount of effort, creativity, and perseverance, he managed to succeed in the food industry leaving my grandfather in-charge. I like to mention the piece in history because due to his vision I was able to grow in a family that values respect, honesty, and generosity. I can say with great pride that I have a family that supports me at all costs and has an unconditional love for me and for what I do. All members have been there for me at all times and have shown me to value teamwork and have perseverance at what you do. I am the middle daughter of three siblings, my sister Victoria who is a freshman in college has been my best friend since day 1, and my brother, Thomas, has always encouraged me to be a great role model for him. My dad’s name is John and my mother is called Maria Gloria, they have shaped me into who I am today, and have taught me to always be generous and to provide my service to those in need. Ever since I was small I have enjoyed helping others and I try to get involved in as many activities as possible. I stand firm on the idea that there is always something we can do to help and that there is no greater feeling than receiving smiles in return for what you do.
Furthermore, from my dad’s side of the family, I have adopted the love and passion for horses. I have been a horse-back rider since I was about four-years-old and this sport has marked my life in so many ways. It has taught so many virtues such as patience, discipline, empathy, self-control, and most importantly dedication and tenacity. I believe all of these traits are essential for one to have due to the fact that in the future everyone has to face obstacles and learn how to solve their own problems, also all of these virtues have increased my self-confidence and I know that it will have a positive impact in the near future. Moreover, my mom taught me to appreciate art and creativity, she is a graphic designer and since I was little she told me that creativity is to think outside the box and express ourselves and our ideas in our own ways. Through this, I have always been passionate about photography and love to experiment with my lens. For me, photography is a way to capture a memory that will stay with us forever, it captures a vast range of emotions and transmits feelings, and most importantly it tells a story. Taking an image freeze a moment and reveals how rich reality looks like, that is why photography is so special to me. I take my camera with me wherever I go, and I feel that it has become an essential part of me. Thought this hobby I have learned to look for details in my pieces and to appreciate every single aspect that composes a photograph. I enjoy taking pictures of buildings and unique structures, and by this, I found out that someday I would like to see a design of my own being built in some place on earth and leave behind a piece of my creativity in this world. This is why I am looking forward to studying architecture. I love to work with my hands and create models, I have always been intrigued by modeling softwares such as AutoCAD and Inventor and since I was 14 I started to work on small projects using these tools, I enjoy it so much I can be in my computer modeling all day.
I have always had a deep connection with nature and enormously value what my country has to offer. I love how diverse Ecuador is and this is why the project Beyond Lagartococha caught my eye. Since the project began back in 2015 I have followed it and dreamed about being part of it since it provides the opportunity to connect with nature in a unique way and to learn from the Secoya community in depth. The education aspect of this project is what encouraged me to apply to be part of Third Generation because I believe in the fact that everyone deserves to learn about the world they live in and flourish. Though this project I knew that I was going to be able to contribute tremendously to the Secoya children’s future and that the trip to the Amazon would mark my life forever. Honestly, I am a person who likes my commodities and loves living in the city, I was not sure if I could ‘survive’ in this trip because I almost never get out of my comfort zone. However, deep inside I knew that this trip would help me grow as a person in every single aspect, it would help me face my fears and take risks, and it did. This remarkable experience taught me that there is a whole world out there and that life is about taking risks in order to learn more and open up. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to go to this amazing place and meet so many outstanding people throughout my journey. We need to be thankful for the education we have and pass it forward to kids like these who unfortunately lack education. Four years ago they did not know how to read or write, and now they know how to do all of this plus much more. They taught us that one can be happy with the simplest things and that we can find happiness wherever we go.
Personally, this project has become a substantial part in my life, it has truly encouraged me to cultivate mindfulness about how lucky we are to have access to such a wonderful place and to get involved with such a remarkable community like the Secoyas. Regardless of its size, I can assure that Ecuador’s biodiversity is unique and extremely special. This project provided me with the opportunity to cause a true impact in these children’s lives, and I believe that being able to share and enrich the education of these kids is something that fills my heart with joy. The most important thing that this experience taught me was that the best way to grow and find yourself is to give your service to others.