Muy Bueno! Twins From UA to Help at Olympics
When the 2016 Olympic Games begin on Friday, twin sisters Fernanda and Paulina Bueno will be in Rio de Janeiro with an organization that arranges volunteer opportunities.
Twin sisters Fernanda and Paulina Bueno have had nearly identical lives and even graduated arm in arm during the University of Arizona's Commencement ceremony in May, each having earned a bachelor's degree in speech, language and hearing sciences.
But they never had a chance to study abroad.
So, when the two learned — through a UA Department of Spanish & Portuguese listserv announcement — that the Florida-based Community Collaborations International had launched the Leadership International Volunteer Experience (L.I.V.E.) Olympic Project, the Buenos decided to apply together. The organization, which links people to volunteer opportunities, selected the Buenos and several other UA students to join dozens of others from institutions across the nation and abroad to participate in the project.
"We were able to find a way to study abroad doing something we love and that is somewhat related to the UA," said Fernanda, who will begin the doctoral program in audiology this fall. "I think there is no excuse not to help people. We struggle like anyone else, but we have all the things we need to live every day. Other people don't have that."
The Buenos will leave for Rio de Janeiro on Thursday for a trip that runs through Aug. 17. Alexandra Guzmán, also a May UA graduate, will serve as the lead facilitator for the group of UA students.
L.I.V.E. participants will help deliver medical supplies to residents living in urban slums, known as favelas. They also will paint murals and offer classes in English, art and computer skills. The group will accompany youth from Rio to a number of events during the Olympics, in which several UA-affiliated athletes and coaches are participating.
"We haven't been out of the country before, and now we will be able to travel — and travel with a purpose," said Paulina, who also earned a degree in psychology in May. This fall, she will take a course as a non-degree-seeking student with plans to apply for doctoral programs at several institutions, intending to start in 2017.
Their work in Rio will mark a continuation of years dedicated to community service.
While in high school, attending the now-defunct Luz Academy of Tucson, the twins were involved in student government and the National Honor Society, in park cleanup projects and in programs that supported the homeless.
At the UA, they were involved with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona as Student Alumni Ambassadors. They also were involved with Spring Fling and Family Weekend, traditional UA events.
"We were pretty involved on campus, and wanted to take that work a step further," Fernanda said. "Opportunities like this don't always happen very often.
"We just share the same vision," she said. "I don't have to pull her to come and join me, and I don't have to carry her. We have the same mentality, and having that support is helpful."
Several UA-affiliated athletes and coaches will be participating in the Rio Olympics. Learn more via the Arizona Athletics Olympic page.
The list of those with UA connections includes:
- Kevin Cordes, USA, swimming
- Bernard Lagat, USA, track and field
- Michael Meyer, USA, swimming
- Tjasa Oder, Slovenia, swimming
- Rafael Quintero, Puerto Rico, diving
- Edgar Rivera, Mexico, track and field
- Brad Tandy, South Africa, swimming
- Pau Tonnesen, Spain, track and field
- Sage Watson, Canada, track and field
- Omar Ojeda, Puerto Rico, diving coach
- Dustin Williams, USA, head athletic trainer, track and field
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