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Student Leadership

At Operation Smile, we believe an investment in students is an investment in our future. Our focus on youth leadership has been an integral part of our organization since our inception. Our youth leaders today are our future. The only way Operation Smile will continue to make a lasting difference is if the culture of caring and humanity is transmitted to our youth to take that excitement and energy into our next era of smiles.

“I witnessed how a group of people with so much good in their hearts can take kids who have never smiled and give them a new start, a new life they deserve. That day changed my entire perception on life. I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I decided to become a doctor. My dream is to volunteer and help give those kids a new chance.”

- Jonathan Amarilla, Student Volunteer, Paraguay. Today, Amarilla is in his third year of medical school.

I was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, which in a way has made my first trip with Operation Smile to Mexico a sort of safe haven — a place where everyone understands. It was here that I met 10-year-old Rosio. She was staring. When she walked toward me, I lowered myself to her level. I could see her tiny scar above her lip, too. She pointed at my scar and motioned to her own scar. She smiled and said in Spanish, ‘Que linda’ — you’re beautiful.”

- Brooke Wayne, Student Volunteer, United States


Operation Smile is so unique because it gives students the chance to be leaders. They put so much trust and faith in us that we can’t help but to feel a sense of trust and faith in ourselves. Operation Smile shows us that we are capable of making a difference in someone’s life."

- Kylie Ryan, Student Volunteer, United States

 

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Student Stories

Brooke Wayne's Story

I was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate, which in a way has made my first Operation Smile mission a sort of safe haven – a place where everyone understands.

Jonathan Amarilla's Story

Operation Smile changed me in so many ways.

Monil Shah's Story

Monil Shah was born in India with a cleft and received early surgical care.