by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Soul of Photography

Beyond Borders

student_eaton2For most high school students, living in a foreign country is just a dream. Ilona Eaton made this dream a reality last summer when she lived in Nicaragua for six weeks as a participant in the AMIGOS volunteer and leadership program. “At first when a friend recommended AMIGOS to me, I didn’t think it was something I could do,” she shared. “It seemed crazy to me to live in a foreign country with a family I did not know, speaking only Spanish. Eventually, I decided it would be a great new experience and that I would learn and grow from pushing myself.”

While she was in Nicaragua, Ilona lived in a very rural community with a host family and one partner from the United States. She and her partner had two main objectives during their time in the country. The first was to facilitate a community development project in which members of the community identified a need and took the initiative to work on the project together. The second was to host after-school camps for children in the community. “We ended up building a storage shed at the local school to hold supplies, and we taught the children about personal health, leadership, and environmental sustainability through fun games and projects,” revealed Ilona. “The community and the Nicaraguan people made me feel so loved. My time in Nicaragua allowed me to appreciate a unique culture that is very different from my own.”

Name: Ilona Eaton (17)
School: Canyon Crest Academy
Grade: 11
Parents: Stacey and Jeff Eaton
Sibling: Noa Eaton (19)
Favorite Places in Solana Beach and Del Mar: Board and Brew, Torrey Pines Natural Reserve, Tabletops

student_eaton1As a junior at Canyon Crest Academy, Ilona is a very active student athlete with many extracurricular interests. She plays field hockey, is involved with ASB (Associated Student Body), and is a part of TedxYouth, a group that is planning a full-day event in the spring with inspiring speakers and activities for students. “I am also president of the Casas de Luz club at CCA. In this club, we raise money to build houses in Mexico for families with unsafe living conditions,” she said. When it comes to academics, it’s no surprise that Ilona’s favorite subject is Spanish and that she loves learning about different cultures and being fluent in the language.

Off campus, Ilona enjoys spending time with friends and family, especially her older sister, and hanging out at the beach. Looking to the future, Ilona hopes to travel and continue her active involvement in community service and the nonprofit world.