Recently I volunteered at a local school along with a few others from Quinnipiac in the QU301 course. My program, API, was kind enough to set up this opportunity. Throughout the semester they’ve continued to offer us various volunteering opportunities so we can give back to the community that has been gracious enough to host us while we study abroad in Spain. At the school itself our official titles were English teacher assistants. We helped the teacher and interacted with students through various activities. It was a great experience to be able to help the people of Spain learn our language. They even helped us a little with our Spanish so it was a win-win. It was an awesome experience, and I wish that I had volunteered earlier on in the semester so I could have participated in this program more than once.
Volunteering is something I believe that everyone should continually do throughout their lives. The experience you get from giving back to your local community is invaluable. It not only can put things into perspective (such as if you’re helping the homeless or volunteering in a hospital), but it also allows you to make a difference within your community. I’ve volunteered quite a bit back home in the United States. I’ve put in hundreds of hours at Rhode Island Hospital doing various tasks over the years. While that has been a rewarding experience, volunteering abroad had an even more special feeling associated with it. At the very beginning of this course we discussed our definition of a Global Community. One point that all of us had agreed on was that it consisted of individuals who work together for the betterment of the community. Volunteers act as an integral part to the success of a community. Getting involved helped me to feel more connected with community. I know I’ve shared on this blog before that I’ve felt a little separated from the locals, particularly in my area of residence. Even a few weeks ago we had signs taped to our doors saying, “tourists kill our neighborhood.” But after volunteering I feel a little better about being a part of the Barcelona community. The students and he teacher were so appreciative of our attendance. It made me feel like I belonged. It was a great feeling to give back to the local community here in Barcelona. I was more than happy to give my time and knowledge to these students.
The picture that I have posted is of Lovisa and I in front of the school that we volunteered at. The quote that I chose is by Slimbach, which reads, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.” This quote is a great depiction of our service to the students at this school. We created a mutually beneficial relationship with the students in which we helped them with English and they helped us with Spanish. This whole experience definitely caused me to venture outside my comfort zone because it isn’t something that I would normally do.