Delegate Spotlight | Smart Snacking: Elias' Sustainable use of the Malanga Root
by Zachary Thomas
“There’s a theory that says that 90% of success in life depends on the attitude with which we face important decisions and challenges.” Elias Becerra Grajales, student at the Universidad Veracruzana, has continuously persevered through all of the obstacles he has encountered in order to accomplish what he aspired to do.
Elias is originally from Misantla, Veracruz, Mexico, a “marginalized community….I'm the first in my family to attend college, and I strongly conviction meet my dreams, and help my family values instilled in me to be happy. Life often throws us adverse circumstances that force us to act in a new scenario.” When he moved from Misantla to Xalapa to attend University, “My challenge was to come to a new city from a marginalized community. I had no work, but I sought and explored different options, then thinking of solutions. For seven semesters, I sold Malanga to move forward with my studies. Part of the decision was my housing dilemma:, I went to live in a hostel for poor students for 4 months. I got basic services there, but had to pay a fee, and my only way to get resources was selling Malanga. Eventually I had to choose between my project and school. At that time I had nowhere to live, so I trusted my project, and came to live in the house of my grandfather’s sister, who never denied me shelter and food. From then on, there were days without food, or without sleep to study for my exams and prepare taro, but I never gave up on my dream. I had a lot of support from my peers, teachers and my family. They always bought Malanga. Patience and faith in my dreams were key to bringing up my career and my project.” He soon developed his idea of Dashitos which purchases the Taro or Malanga plant from youth who grow it, and then turns the root into a profitable snack. “My goal is to create jobs for young people and to help them fulfill their dreams, encouraging them to engage in the same way, [so that they] can move forward.” His project won third place at the Talloires Video Competition and is now also an ambassador for the Talloires Network in North America.
Elias vision for the future involves expanding Dashitos even further. “Currently the challenge is greater, since I finished my studies, and my dream is to create an empire of malanga world wide. I'm working on making this possible, since my business requires financing to increase operations and to access to new markets. All of this will be possible with the best attitude and perseverance. Never forgetting the fundamental human values, attitude leaves its mark on every step. Since every defeat I've had has made me stronger and more human, I have to thank my mother, whose efforts meant my dreams remain focused on as a legacy for humanity.”
Elias is insanely excited to be at the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. “I hope to learn from all of you, and your experiences, build great relationships that may change the way we think and act for the benefit of our community. I hope to share my enthusiasm and attitude to make this conference a spearhead to abate the problems afflicting the world, being young protagonists of this change.”
Elias is just one of the many amazing delegates already registered for the 7th annual Millennium Campus Conference the United Nations from August 11-15th where he, along with others from around the world, will come together to think, connect, and act to challenge the paradigms that perpetuate inequality and to redefine the world around us. Apply at mcc15.org/delegateapplication to join the movement and promote social change!