Travel Log 12 “Service” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

Three weeks ago, I volunteered as an English teacher assistant for young students along with Lovisa and Jared. We found out about the volunteer opportunity through our study abroad program, API. They were looking for a few students to assist in the classroom and teach an English lesson. After living in a country where the language is primarily Spanish and Catalan it was really nice to know that they valued English and our input in the school. We were all really excited to teach English and interact with the students.

Throughout high school and college I have done a lot of community service work, but it was all in my local community. This was like no experience I had ever had before. Because I am not from Spain, it was so interesting to volunteer in a different community. Unlike if I volunteered at a school in the United States, the students looked at us like we were from another world. They were so infatuated with how we talked and what we said and it was a really amazing feeling to be able to show them a little bit of our language and American culture. We assisted the teachers with lessons in English and helped students individually. It was a great experience to work with the English teacher as well. It was amazing to see students that knew how to speak Catalan and Spanish and were learning English. It makes me realize how much European countries put an emphasis on speaking multiple languages.

This community service was so personal to my experience here that it impacted me a lot. After living here for the semester and taking in all of the Catalan and Spanish culture, it felt good to give back and share some of my knowledge. In addition, I felt like I had made a small mark on the place I have been fortunate enough to call my home.

In our QU 301 workshops we talked about not just thinking of what our new home can do for us, but what we can do to make a positive impact as well. Slimbach poses the question poses the question, “Having generated all this energy to understand and potentially mend the world, how can we actually harness it to protect and positive impact the cultures and environments we visit?” (Slimbach 9). Slimbach discusses the importance of leaving our positive impact on the new cultures we visit and live. Volunteering definitely allowed me to fulfill that mission. One of the best ways to feel part of a community is through volunteering in it. I felt like I was giving back to community that I had given so much to me. I have learned so much from studying abroad and from living in Barcelona so it was the least I could.

This is a photo of me and Lovisa outside of the school where we volunteered. As a Physical Therapy major, I never knew if I would enjoy learning languages and teaching because it is not something that is part of our curriculum. However, I really loved this volunteer opportunity and it opened my eyes to something new that. I think that is another positive aspect of volunteering. Sometimes when you do something outside your comfort zone you discover new things and passions. I would love to work with the students again. I am so thankful for this experience and it is something that I will always remember.

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One thought on “Travel Log 12 “Service” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

  1. Glad that you felt the same way about our volunteering experience as I did. I enjoyed it so much and I felt like it gave me such a greater insight into the culture in Barcelona and in the schooling system that I did not have before.

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