TOM: Day in the life of María Hinestroza


Emilio Ospina

Hinestroza speaks while standing with Martín, a 7 year-old boy who got an arm prothesis from TOM.

A student leader at TOM TCS does not have an easy job; María Hinestroza takes her role to another level because of the potential she noticed in the project. Her approachable personality and experience with leadership roles have made her an essential asset for TOM’s success at TCS.

“When I was introduced to TOM the first time I saw where this was going and wanted to make a part of it,” Hinestroza said.

This year, working as a Student Leader along with Pablo Arango was a challenge. Nevertheless, Hinestroza values her current position in TOM 2023 and continues to work hard for the project. Two years ago, she got the opportunity to apply for a student leadership position at TOM, back then she saw an “excellent program that lacked leadership.”

“I knew that this program needed some leadership, so I gave it my all, I believe that my work reflected properly in the success of the program this year,” Hinestroza said.

In the last few months of 2021, Hinestroza decided to partake in the very enriching and fulfilling journey of TOM. Initially applying for any role available, when the opportunity of becoming a leader arose, she was more than eager to take it. Throughout the years, she learned more about earning her place as a leader, but more importantly, as an adult. Being under pressure and having to showcase professionalism for the Need Knowers, taught her to overcome her challenges in a practical way.

“When people ask me about my experience in TOM, I always tell them that although I had a lot of challenges, I felt delighted by the experience,” Hinestroza said.

Hinestroza woke up every day at 5:15 AM, and got ready by having a quick shower and packing her bag.

On Friday, April 21st at 6:40 she arrived at the Columbus School, ready for the challenges that the day will bring by playing the role of student leader of TOM. She met every morning with the other leaders and makers to plan the day in the Maker Space located at the new tech building. She then went to the cafeteria and picked up her breakfast.  

After the meetings and her breakfast, Hinestroza walked to the Colosseum where all the TOM stands are located. And getting ready to lead a 3rd-grade classroom tour around all the facilities. With all the information in her head, Hinestroza shared the purposes of Tikkun Olam Makers around the world and the target TOM TCS has had for six years.

When Hinestroza was not busy with the meetings or events, she went to Pablo Arango, another Student Leader, to discuss everything going on in TOM and what was there to be solved.

At 10:00 AM Hinestroza had a simple snack. She sometimes headed to the Postobón stand and grabbed something to drink or eat, now that this stand offered free food and drinks for all the TOM crew.

At 10:30 AM, after her snack, Hinestroza walked around the Colosseum checking to see if everything was alright. Her job was to make sure the TOM fair had no flaws or weaknesses. For instance, providing the right elements and tools each team needed.

“All the team and I propose are for the benefit of the people we are helping with these projects. And for me, the best feeling is the satisfaction that our projects work properly,” Hinestroza said.

Hinestroza was surprised when checking the lunches for everyone she noticed they were cold. This was a circumstance of major concern, time was limited and the team had to act fast.  Then, Hinestroza came up with the best idea: she arranged for the lunches to be moved close to the microwaves in the hallway, so people made a line and heated their lunches again.

At 11:15 AM, Hinestroza walked towards the Maker Space and spoke with some makers about their builds, such as improving the wheelchairs and crutches for the Need Knowers’ (people helped by TOM).

Hinestroza had many jobs, another is that she was in charge of managing the security of TOM with the help of the logistics team. She was always alert with the people going through the door if they had nothing to do with the fair and were just wandering around, now that non-TOM people had to take a sensitization course at the library.

Hinestroza could get called at any time to give a tour around to teachers, students, or parents, sometimes having to walk from the cafeteria to the Colosseum, meaning she had to be prepared for anything at any time.

“I know that many students at the school know me as a very strict person, I never take this personally, it is just that I like to take my job seriously,” Hinestroza said.

At 2:00 PM later that Friday, Hinestroza withheld her own lunchtime to check that others had theirs. She had to be ready at 3:30 when the doors opened for parent tours since she was often called to lead them.

In addition to all her other responsibilities, Hinestroza managed the arrival of each sponsor of the next day’s meals. They arrived from 4:40 to 6:00 PM, and Hinestroza had to be ready to receive them.

“For me, the best part of the day is when I have the opportunity to meet the Need Knowers and get to know their stories,” Hinestroza said.

Hinestroza did not have an exact time to leave the school during TOM, it depended on what she was doing at the time but normally left around 8:30 to 10:00 PM.

She arrived home and had dinner, ending the day roughly at 11:30 to 12:00 PM. Before going to sleep, Hinestroza set the alarm to wake up the next day at 5:15 AM.

Hinestroza loved the experience, although she had a lot of challenges along the way, she felt as if she lived an adult life as a senior student.

“Maria Hinestroza is a great leader, and the secret to her success is the passion she installs day to day as TOM’s student leader. She is the living example of what discipline and dedication do to anything you do in your life,” Cipriano Uribe, TOM Maker, said.