• IDRA Newsletter • April 2016 •

This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. Felix Montes, Ph.D., is an IDRA education associate. His story starts more than 3,000 miles away. He was born in Venezuela and grew up in one of its most southern cities, Ciudad Bolivar, close to the Amazon jungle, by the Orinoco River, one of the largest in South America. This closeness to the majesty of nature gave him a special perspective about the place and relationship we have with the universe. He also learned to appreciate the value of education very early. As a rebellious teen, he dropped out of school and spent a year in various occupations, including auto mechanics, brick laying and shoe repairing. He observed and experienced the kind of lives people in those jobs were living. Wanting other options, he went back to school, embraced reading and learning, and completed his education. As the current director of the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, Dr. Montes empathizes deeply with the students the program is engaging because of this personal experience. As part of his commitment to public service and education, Dr. Montes was a member of the board of Project Learn to Read, and a guest speaker at the City of San Antonio Commission on Literacy to help policymakers improve adult literacy in the city.

When Dr. Montes went to the University of Arizona in Tucson to do graduate studies, one place he visited whenever he had a break was the Grand Canyon. During his first visit, the canyon was painted white with snow in a spectacular display of nature. Recently, President Obama designated three new national monuments in California. National Public Radio featured a book that proposes setting aside 50 percent of the planet for conservation (Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson). Dr. Montes hopes that such plan comes to pass for the sake of the planet and its inhabitants. He enjoys going to parks around the city of San Antonio, including Enchanted Rock, Friedrich Park and Woodlawn Lake Park. Dr. Montes likes doing yoga, Thai Chi, and meditation or just walking in any of those parks.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA at feedback@idra.org.

[©2016, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the April 2016 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]