Photo of Julmar Carcedo

I am from Davao, Philippines. Growing up in Mindanao, I never got a chance to see what is beyond my island, so I relished postcards my uncle sent from abroad, watched foreign movies, and read plenty of used books. I study International Relations at Brown University and am involved in a variety of organizations. At a young age, I learned to value peace and economic development. Unlike Rhode Island, Mindanao is filled with conflict between Christians and Muslims and poverty is everywhere. I can still remember when my mother and I went to take out a loan and rebels fired their guns into the bank to kill a woman. Because our region was extremely undeveloped and lacked opportunities, people became utterly desperate that they could be paid to kill someone. I was three but I can still hear the gunshots in my sleep. When my mom and I were in the safe room, I knew I had to do something. The sound of the gunshots, ironically, became a blessing in disguise. It became a gentle reminder of my heartfelt commitment to serve others – to ensure that no harmful incidents will happen to my mom, to all moms, and to people surrounded by conflict so that no more happy days will be ruined.