Orbelin Portillo Blancas: Sharing InSight on Poverty and Inequality

Name: Orbelin Portillo Blancas

Year: 2nd Year

Major: Philosophy

This week, we had the opportunity learn more about Orbelin Portillo Blancas, the Radio Producer for InSight Magazine, a student-run online magazine at UC Irvine that strives to bring visibility to poverty and inequality. By exploring and highlighting personal encounters, views and experiences with homelessness, hunger, inequality and poverty, Orbelin and the InSight team have created an environment where students can express their own creative approach towards addressing these issues. Together they are driving new initiatives to empower students and faculty at UC Irvine to use their knowledge and resources to take action within the community. If you're interested in learning more about their mission or getting involved, Insight Magazine encourages students to submit feature articles on a rolling basis and motivated, driven students to join their intern teams for the winter quarter. Applications can be found with this link: http://www.insightmag.org/2018/11/30/internship/.

How did you get involved in InSight Magazine and why?

I got involved at InSight Magazine through a friend who had suggested that I apply to and try out for InSight to see if I had any interest in working with the theme of poverty. I chose to do it only because I had initially thought it would be a great way to expand my resume and see if I had mastered and possibly then hone my capacities in audio production. It turned out to have been an incredible decision because I was able to network with big community leaders through the work I did, and develop an audio portfolio in the process as well.  

Homelessness is a critical concern we face as a nation. What do you hope to accomplish through InSight Magazine to address this issue?

InSight Magazine, by nature, has only been a vessel that calls communities to the duty of service by raising awareness of the issue of poverty. That being said, one goal, and it is very ambitious for a student run organization, is to elevate the service InSight Magazine can output; to evolve  from a publication into a service providing organization. The plan is to start small: perhaps hosting essay contests in local high schools, coordinating small community events, and then go big: working in  unity with big service providing organizations based in Orange County.

What can we expect from InSight Magazine this upcoming year?

Well for starters, one thing that will be coming this year is another print publication, accompanied by its own  launch event. One can also expect to see more events for students to engage in with the community, for example, food and clothes drives, packing and distribution of food, essay contests, participation with the county’s Continuum of Care board to list a few things.

What do you feel people take for granted the most?

It is hard to pinpoint what people take for granted the most. I think it would have to be friends. I personally have a very strong pact with my friends, and we help each other with everything. Sometimes it could mean helping each other with homework, a ride to school, or other times it could mean lending money to each other for gas, rent or food. People take for granted the fact that friends help us solve problems as a crowd, and not as an individual. Western philosophy and in America especially, people are so caught up in dealing and overcoming hurdles alone. Life is so much easier when you have friends to count on, friends are what make finding solutions much easier. That sort of philosophy is, from what I have experienced coming from Santa Ana, is how those struggling with poverty overcome it.

What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for my family and friends. Without them I would not have had the influences that shaped the person I am today. I would not be at UCI, nor would I have accomplished the things I did if it weren't for their support and willingness of my friends and family to carry me through my times of crisis.

What message would you like to share with the students at UC Irvine?

To the students of UC Irvine, it is of the utmost importance that you begin to orient your life and careers to the service of humanity. It is not enough to help those around you, rather also those in your community. We cannot wait for giant organizations to do the work for us, and thus we must believe in our own ability to cause change. For many of us, the overarching goal that we have is to make the change that the world is in need of. Ironically, we want to make change and so we devote ourselves to years of studying, when in fact the capacity to make change has been in us since we were capable of carrying out acts of service. We must, in order to find our purpose in life and feel a sense of fulfillment through our work/ responsibilities, learn how to lead a life of service that is complimented by the work and studies we conduct and vice versa. It has always been said that if a good deed is done, the doer will receive a sense of happiness. Imagine what the doer receives if they devote their life to doing good deeds. It is imperative that we learn this now while we have the energy to do so, because we are the next generation of youth that will help bring change to our country.