This year, Bridges to Community honors the future at our 2020 Leadership Dinner in April by recognizing a group of seven young people who are stellar examples of passionate, service-oriented future leaders.
From Bedford, NY, Tallulah Samberg has traveled on four Bridges service trips and interned with Bridges in our NY office.
Tallulah became involved with Bridges through the Bridges to Community club at her high school, Fox Lane High School. She joined with a friend and first traveled on a Bridges service trip to Nicaragua in 2016. Tallulah says, “[On that first trip, I experienced] culture shock. It was a new setting, scary at first but also exciting and intense. Bridges [staff] and everyone on the trip were incredibly supportive and helpful. We talked through what we were seeing and experiencing. I was surprised by how close I got to the [other volunteers].
I signed up for my second trip within a week of returning home because a week just wasn’t enough. It is hard to describe how amazing [the Bridges experience is]; you can’t put it into words. I felt so happy, and like I was doing something good and valuable, nothing compares to it.”
Tallulah thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to build relationships with people and learn about Nicaraguan culture throughout her four Bridges trips. David Albano, Fox Lane High School trip organizer and teacher, says, “I remember [Tallulah’s] fearless Spanish. She would muddle through conversations with the children and have them laughing or playing within a few minutes of engaging them.” Tallulah adds, “I loved working with the families we were building the house for. It’s very special how even the kids in the community would try to help us on the worksite. The biggest part of the experience is creating a relationship with the community members based on mutual respect. Respecting each other’s cultures and understanding the differences between their community and ours is so important. [It’s impactful] to learn everything we can from them and teach them what we can. And Bridges guides the volunteers so that you take all the value you can out of the amazing experience in front of you.”
Tallulah certainly learned a lot from her experiences with Bridges, lessons that she took to heart. She explains, “It’s very easy to get caught up in a bubble in Westchester, wrapped up in where we are and what is going on immediately around us, but this experience got me out of my comfort zone. It’s really easy to turn a blind eye to things that aren’t right in front of you, but we are bigger than what is in our immediate surroundings.
I learned to appreciate what I have and also to listen to other people’s stories. I had the chance to hear the stories of the people [we were working with], and I realized that you don’t know what people go through or where they come from. It’s essential to listen to others’ stories to understand the different experiences and lives that people live. I have let that affect how I go about connecting with people on a deeper level.”
In 2018, motivated by the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua, Tallulah and her friend Lilia Robinowitz decided to fundraise for Bridges’ programs. They reached out to family and friends, sharing their story with Bridges to raise over $2,000. Tallulah says, “We fundraised because we wanted to keep up our involvement and connection with Bridges even though we couldn’t go on a trip [to Nicaragua].”
This past summer, Tallulah added another dimension to her experience with Bridges; she interned in Bridges’ New York office. Tallulah worked on our contact database for volunteers and donors, helped out with social media, and brainstormed ways to increase Bridges’ presence on college campuses. Tallulah says, “I got to see the other side to nonprofit work. All of my other work [with nonprofits] has been volunteer work [within their programs]. To a certain extent, volunteering is set up and planned for you. Interning in the office was very interesting because I got to see the business side and behind the scenes.” Julia Hadlock, Bridges Executive Director, is thankful for Tallulah’s work during her internship. She says, “Tallulah was committed to helping us increase our outreach to young volunteers. She was such a great asset to our team this past summer. She organized our emails and our database. She always had a smile, even when she was staring at data all day. We are grateful for everything she did!”
Bridges continues to impact Tallulah, especially in her studies and career goals. She is a sophomore at Bucknell University and is majoring in Sociology and Spanish with a minor in Latin American studies. She says, “Bridges definitely impacted my education [and] led me to my study path. I apply my experience in Nicaragua with Bridges [all the time], especially in my Latin American studies and Spanish classes.” Likewise, Tallulah is interested in working for a nonprofit in the future, possibly to do immigration social work. She says, “I wouldn’t even have thought about that without my Bridges experience.”
Mitchell and Lynn Samberg, Tallulah’s parents, are very proud of her efforts. They say, “From the moment of Tallulah’s first service trip, she’s been deeply in love with this organization and what it represents. She has often said, ‘I’ve left my heart in Nicaragua,’ when she discusses her experiences. After each trip, Tallulah has returned with a greater sense of compassion and respect for the people of Nicaragua, and what they have to endure. Thank you for appreciating and honoring her hard work and dedication.”