Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Founding President of nonprofit Spark, Maya Garcia, envisioned an organization that would empower young professional women in local communities to address social, political and economic issues that women face globally by creating a local network and working with grassroots women’s groups worldwide.

Did you hear that, Divas? Not a muted minion of multi-millionaires in the twilight of their careers. But women, young women of dedication and drive with the world opening up before them. Spark believes that you can make a difference, right now! Not with all the money and time in the world, not by simply writing a check, but by networking with your fabulous peers, attending educational and social events centered on key issues and world regions. And by making this nonprofit your home.

Now, the fabulous Maya has embarked on another journey–moving to Dubai with her soon-to-be husband. Which is right next to Jordan, which is where the women of Spark chose to go last year on their annual delegation trip to visit grantees on the ground.

Today, just four years later, Spark is a growing organization with a femme-powered board of 18 gorgeous, world-altering women, lauded by the press, flocked to by concerned citizens of the world, and responsible for several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of donations to women’s groups in Kenya, Bangladesh, Mexico, the US, Zimbabwe, Jordan and more.

And renowned for their events. Where cocktails and this cause come together is at Spark’s annual Black and Pink Ball, for which Maya flies in every fall.

Viva World-Changing Young Professional Divas!!

Diva Visionary Questions:

1. What was the best decision you made in your life?

To attend UC Berkeley. I think there is a lifelong reward to a good public school education. Since I graduated, attending Cal continues to impact my life in so many ways, and that is one important attribute of a ‘best decision.’

2. What is your most memorable travel moment?

While I can’t ignore the one night I spent horse riding around The Great Pyramids of Giza, or the awe I felt coming upon the Treasury for the first time at Petra, I would have to say my best travel experience is marching in a parade with my grandfather, Angel Garcia, in the small town of Mortain, France.

The whole town came out to honor him for his service to their community during World War II. I remember this little old woman coming up to us during the parade. She hugged my grandfather for a long time and just kept saying, “Thank you.” It was pretty amazing.

3. What was the worst travel experience you had?

I’m grateful that I haven’t had many bad experiences on my travels. I guess the worst would be experiencing severe turbulence on my way to Istanbul. I got really sick.

4. What have you learned about yourself through traveling?

Since moving to the Middle East, I had the opportunity to travel around the region to many cities, meeting people from all walks of life. The longer the time I spend here, the more amazed I am at the vast misconceptions Americans have about Arabs and Muslims. I am for ever grateful for having had the opportunity to learn about the people here and feel their human touch.

5. If you could choose your ultimate travel companion, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be?

Amer, my fiancé. He lives for the moment, he will eat anything, is never afraid to go anywhere, packs in a full day then can totally relax the next and always makes every experience so fun and memorable.

6. What moment in your life did you feel the most alive?

I don’t think I can narrow it down to one moment, but I feel most alive when I’m working with a group of people that are truly inspired to help others.

7. If money and time were no object, where on earth would you go?

I would love to take a couple of months to trek through South America. One place I want to see is the Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza. I’m named after the Mayan people!

8. Who is your hero?

My dad. He taught me about social justice and standing up for those without a voice. He taught me that we are larger than ourselves in this world and that we have a responsibility as global citizens to make the world a better place for everyone. He has dedicated his life to serving others and has always been a great role model to me.

9. Name a place in the world that you know a lot about and would make a great resource for our Divas. Tell us about it.

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates! It is my home away from home.

10. And finally a word from our Featured Diva–give us a stirring, Diva-worthy battle cry for women everywhere to hear!

Do what makes you happy! Forget about what others may say about you. You will thank yourself later!

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For More Information:

Visit Spark online at SparkSF.org.

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