“I kind of see myself as a consultant to the world,” says Golden-resident Daniel Lopez, with a laugh. “It’s been a mish-mash of things, but I do see a thread through it. I’ve been a teacher, an educator, I worked for the US State Department, and I’ve done work with the Peace Corps. The common thread is having a global presence in the world.”
Photo: Daniel Lopez in his Golden home
Lopez credits his mom and dad for his love for all-things global. When he was 15 years old his parents sent him on a trip to India with his high school group. “My parents took us on a lot of trips. We didn’t have a lot of stuff growing up, but we had experiences, exchange students living with us, and the summer they sent me to India,” he says.
Lopez was an exchange student in Spain after high school. Taking a gap year, working hard on developing his Spanish language skills (which he had to learn), and reclaiming that part of his Spanish heritage.
The world opened up when Lopez moved to Washington, D.C., for college and won a Fulbright Scholarship to Ecuador. Most of his friends were from different countries, and getting to know them and their cultures was something Lopez had longed for. He began working and teaching abroad, but then something shifted. “I wanted to facilitate those experiences for other people because of what it gave to me,” says Lopez.
“I love the idea of light bulbs going off for kids and young people, that they have an impact on the world and can shape how the future is going to be.” Lopez continues, “Former students have come back to me and said that I have really impacted their lives. Students who have gone on to leadership positions, worked for or founded non-profits. Money, power and ego don’t do anything for me. But seeing young people thrive in the world just gives me a thrill.”
Lopez’s next assignment will be with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica, working with the Ministry of Education on a ten-month program called Peace Corps Response. Lopez will be working on curriculum reform for vocational English programs on a national level rather than a small communal one. “I want to fade into the background and show people I believe in what they’re doing and help them in any way I can,” says Lopez. “I’ve gotta give my parents credit for instilling the belief that people who are different from us are not a threat. It’s about curiosity and getting to know people from different backgrounds. And that has set a tone for me in my life.”