I am on a continuous journey to find internal peace, happiness, connection, purpose…and above all else, love.

"Tell me a little bit about yourself" … Hi, I'm Anna Alicia.

I am 29 years old (I know age is just a number but it seems to have been culturally ingrained to begin this spiel with how many years I’ve spent being "me"). I am the second daughter of 4 outstanding women and exceedingly close with my 5 cousins (4 female, 1 non binary — no, my Father was not disappointed to be surrounded by women, and yes, I am in fact grateful to have been raised in such a strongly feminine environment).

My parents met working for the Farm Workers Union spearheaded by Cesar Chavez in Florida. My dad, a lawyer and my mom, a Spanish translator. Fast forward 12 years and they are living in Atlanta, GA where I was born in Northside Hospital on June 15, 1994.

My favorite colors are orange and blue (fun aside: do you imagine the sunrise or the sunset when presented with this winning combo?); I was a huge Anglophile growing up and ironically am now in a committed relationship with someone from Barnsley, England; I used to insist on eating ice cream with a fork because I thought it made me more interesting (thankfully, I have since let that go); my sense of humor can be summed up into one word: PUNS; I have my qualms with organized religion but am a highly sensitive and spiritual person; I love to sing and very much enjoy sharing my voice with anyone who will listen (play me a song and I will inevitably start harmonizing); I feel most empowered while holding a microphone (my most recent gig involved hosting a trivia night in a local Irish pub); I am an avid sunset watcher and proponent of the outdoors (seriously — hiking, camping, star gazing, water rafting, you name it and I’m there). What I would hope is most of the time, I am kind, open, honest, generous, and compassionate. What I would hope is less often, I am stubborn, overly sensitive, and easily fall back into "victim" mentality. Essentially I am a Mexi-Jew (part Mexican/part Jewish) millennial who is trying to be the best version of herself and make the world a little bit better.

The term "eating disorder" was introduced into my vocabulary when I was 20 years old. After 12 years of sneaking food, starving myself for days and then gorging myself until my body rejected any attempt to self-soothe, enough shame for a thousand lifetimes; two invasive surgeries and years of healing (physically, mentally, and emotionally) later, I am proud to say I am fully in recovery. That being said, my relationship with both my body and with food is a daily balancing act, and will be for the rest of my life.

I graduated from GA Tech with a BSBA in Operations Mgmt and Informational Technology. After 3 years of experience working in logistics and product management at The Home Depot, I decided to quit my job, pack a backpack, and begin a new chapter of my life. What was originally meant to be one "gap" year has now turned into 6 years of living abroad (well, technically more like 5 years considering the months spent back in the States during COVID and for the holidays each year). I planned, organized, and saved for 6 months. I made pros and cons lists with my mom and used my therapist at the time as a sounding board. Once I had figured out what I was doing with my job, apartment, car, cats, and furniture, I booked a one-way ticket to Turrialba, Costa Rica. My "Workaway" journey begins in "Casa de Lis," where I worked as a receptionist in exchange for room and board. The original purpose of my trip was to further my exposure to the Spanish language, so during my spare time I took classes with an amazing woman named Susana. We became very close and I even enjoyed spending time with her family and occasionally babysitting her two lovely little ones. I was also lucky enough to meet Pris while she was still working at the hostel. She took me on a hike to a nearby waterfall and I learned to make empanadas with her wonderful mother. Her family also essentially "adopted" me and I was able to learn about local flowers and fruits and visit places I normally would never have had access to. 41 countries + countless work exchanges, volunteer programs, and work abroad programs later, I have a myriad of lessons learned and stories to share. As I sit here trying to catch up on years of memories I am constantly reminded that practically each highlight is shaped by the interactions I have had with others and the connections made along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some truly life changing experiences all on my own and the overwhelming majority of my time abroad I have spent as a "solo traveler." However, as I visualize the storyboard that is my life thus far, my most meaningful memories are significantly marked by the meaningful bonds I've been fortunate enough to create with others.

On a darker note, as I revisit my past I recognize that I have both witnessed and experienced seemingly insurmountable injustice and trauma. As someone who is wholeheartedly grateful to be a member of a close-knit loving family (albeit imperfect and a major source of some deeply rooted insecurities), I fully recognize that not everyone in this world who has been pummeled to the ground has even an iota of the support system behind them to help pull themselves back up and stand confidently on their own two feet as I do. My purpose in this world, I have recently discovered, is to be that source of love for those who have never had anyone to champion their light or be mirrors for their darkness. The desire to spread love gushes from my very being, and if I can help even one person learn how to love themselves, I will leave this world knowing I made a difference.

Treated differently because of my size, gender, and ethnicity, I have learned to stand up for myself in the face of adversity. I know what it feels like firsthand to be stripped of my power, and I know what it means to be unseen and unheard. Never again will I allow anyone to make me feel objectified or beg for the approval of another. Never again will I unknowingly entrust someone with my body only to be entirely betrayed and discarded. Never again will I allow my desire for external approval to become my weakness. I choose light. I choose balance. I choose truth. I choose freedom. I choose authenticity. I choose fairness. I choose curiosity. I choose empathy. I choose vulnerability. I choose love. Unconditional love for myself and discerning love for others. The Beatles were never more right about anything, "All you need is love," and I intend to share my love with the world.

It’s a pleasure to meet you. What’s your story?