June Virtual Ambassador Training
At least twice per year, Best Buddies in Connecticut hosts a Buddy Ambassador Training. Best Buddies Ambassadors is a program that provides training for participants with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in areas of speech writing, public speaking, and self-advocacy. Ambassadors develop the skills to professionally share their life stories, promote Best Buddies programs, network, and most importantly, advocate. The Ambassadors program prepares people to become active agents of change and informed, engaging advocates for the disability rights movement.
On Saturday, June 27, 2020, we held our very first virtual Ambassador Training. The speech below was written (in this case typed) by CT Ambassador Angelo Santiago.
My name is Angelo Santiago and I have been a part of Best Buddies for 7 years now. A lot has changed since this whole pandemic started. Some things good, and some things bad. But I’m going to tell you about the good things that have happened during this pandemic.
I have always thought I have had patience before but this has changed my patience just a little, especially nowadays. As a person, I have always been a go-go-go type of person, usually, that means that I can do anything and not have to worry about anything. This pandemic has changed how I look at things – back then, I could just visit a friend and not worry about spreading anything. Now I’m worried about touching something or breathing on something because I may potentially give or get the virus. I’m a very sociable person when it comes to people but ever since this happened I felt more alone as a person and a lot has changed. I don’t get to see most of my friends anymore unless it’s on a screen. And if I do see them out in the community, it is with a mask on.
A lot has changed in terms of Best Buddies. I never thought I would be able to do events on a phone or computer screen. I am so used to seeing people in person and outside or somewhere. I’ve never had access to these kinds of things – I had to adapt. I needed to add a lot of apps like Zoom to my phone to communicate. I had to have video calls with 3 other people on Facebook messenger. I had to buy a laptop when I am so used to using a tablet or a phone! I have mixed feelings when it comes to these changes in Best Buddies. It’s different for me and it’s exciting especially with everything. Recently, I was asked to do a video for the Champion of the Year event which was being hosted online. To my surprise, I was thinking that the video wouldn’t be used but there it is, on live-stream online. I’ve never felt more flustered, excited, and extremely happy because so many people were watching and agreeing with my views. All of this change has been exciting, nerve-wracking, and most of all, awesome!
Everything that has happened during this pandemic has taught me to appreciate things more – my friendships and my accomplishments, especially nowadays. And it has also taught me to be humble, especially with my friends and my family, and with life in general. It has taught me to adapt to different types of coping mechanisms to handle stressful situations, especially nowadays. It has also taught me to open up a little more. I never thought that I would be talking to you through a screen instead of in person, but what it has taught me is that things can change sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse but all you can do is sit and wait for the good to come out.
I would like to thank everyone for listening to this and to my story. I hope you get a lot out of this and know that no matter what happens, you still have friends and Best Buddies to help you get through it!