Travel Log 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Seperation” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

Change is something that I am not usually a fan of and I am definitely not looking forward to the 7-hour plane ride home. The actual process of the plane isn’t really the thing I’m dreading, but more the actual leaving. Ireland has become my new home and to leave this new home after all that I have experience here is awful.

 

Over the four and a half months I have been here I have grown a custom to the very things I thought of as different or strange when I first arrived, like the flow of traffic or the different accents. All the things I was used to, that I had grown up with in America, were no longer present in the same way. I was therefore alone, but being alone turned out to be a good thing. Slimbach states that “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (p.54) As so much changed around me I dwelled into the only thing that was constant at the time, myself. I accepted the weakness and vulnerability that came with my new surroundings and used it to better myself. As I learned about the different world around me, I learned more and more about whom I am and how I thought about the different things affecting my life past and present.

 

In Ireland I was able to meet people from all over the world, specifically Ireland, and gain perspectives from them I would never have achieved at home. It was scary being among such a diverse group of people; I initially felt I did not have that much to offer to the conversation. But after much talking and learning between my culturally diverse friends I was able to see my worth in the global conversation. I was also able to change my perception on different parts of the world I had previously, changing my inner mind while experiencing the outer world. With the help of my new friends I was able to understand better the different perspectives of different areas of the world and bring that into my own thought process.

 

These friends that I have met over the semester have given me so much. From offering me different perspectives from various parts of the world to going on adventures around Ireland, we have been through a lot. That’s why the separation from these people is going to be extremely difficult. The many different groups of friends whether it be my roommates form Germany, my new friends from Quinnipiac, my friends from different parts of America, or my friends from Ireland all have planned for a celebration of sorts before the finale of our journey comes. And as the end draws closer and closer, the goodbyes will indefinitely become harder and harder. I have realized that some of these people I may not see again despite the amazing and unforgettable times we have had together. I have had the opportunity to know some of them very well and others I haven’t had the opportunity to know enough. Either way the goodbyes will be hard, but that is why each goodbye is going to be part of a celebration. There’s no point in crying about our time being over because that takes away from time we could still be valuing together.

 

That’s why all of the different groups of friends have decided to celebrate and as the Irish say “Cheers”. Cheers to the times we had, cheers to the times we argued, cheers to the times we’ll miss together, and cheers to seeing each other soon.

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Travel Log 12: “Service” by Jenna Paul. Cork, Ireland.

Right before I left to come back to America I got the chance to volunteer my time at a food bank in Cork called Cork Penny Dinners. I had been trying for weeks to get in to help, but with them moving locations and the holiday season coming up it got a little difficult. Luckily, my time came and it was the most amazing experience for me. Cork Penny Dinners was founded around the time of the Famine and started as a soup kitchen. They have one goal and that is to give a hot meal to anyone who needs one. On their website it states that, “We never judge, we serve.” It is very clear that they are there to help those in need and are open to anyone that needs a little help. When I arrived at Cork Penny Dinners, I was shocked to see how many people were there. Not only was the amount of people shocking, but also the people that were in there was shocking. I saw a few families with children and it really made me sad to think that these kids have to go through that. It made me appreciate my life even more and understand that not everyone is as fortunate. It truly was an eye opening experience.

Volunteering in general is such a great thing to do, but it is an even better experience while abroad because you can feel like you are giving back to a place that has given you so much. It is so important to be part of the Global Community and give back to the world. Community service has so many benefits, one of which is that it is completely free and can mean so much to the people you are helping. The fact of the matter is that we (study abroad students) come into these countries and are clearly so fortunate to even have that opportunity. Taking a couple hours to help some less fortunate people out is the least we can do. And also, it makes you feel so good inside that you could help some strangers out. For most, you can even make their day by just telling a joke or too as well. From this experience I had at Cork Penny Dinners, I will think more about giving back and helping the less fortunate. It is important to understand that some people were just dealt a bad hand in life, and they just need some extra help. This experience has impacted my life because I now can understand the importance of giving back and how much these people appreciate it. One man I was talking to while I was there could not thank me enough for giving my time and he was upset because he could not give me anything in return. I reassured him that I was doing this for myself and he did not need to give me anything. It was so special just to be there helping out in Ireland.

The picture I chose is of a group of girls with volunteer shirt on looking like they are enjoying themselves. Volunteering can be so much fun if you go with your friends or even if you just have the right attitude about it.images There are so many places in the world that need some help and all it takes is a little time.images.jpeg A quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. states that, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” That is the best part about volunteering. It takes no special skills and doesn’t cost any money. All around the world places are looking for people to help out and after helping out at Cork Penny Dinners I will most certainly look for places around where I live. This day of service was a special day that I will never forget!

Picture:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwislcWOgPjJAhURx2MKHXYmCkIQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.corkdeaf.ie%2F&psig=AFQjCNG3nWSyIhlv3L2LPOiyzoje_q59Kg&ust=1451166898800492

 

Travel Log 15 “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Jared Walsh. Lincoln, Rhode Island

It’s been about a week since my plane touched down in Boston and I’m still not entirely sure of how I’m supposed to be feeling. I’m beyond happy to be back in the United States with my friends and family but at the same time I’m already bored and want to head back to Europe. It’s a weird mix of emotions at the moment.

I’ve found that I’ve become more independent. I have been wanting to do more and more things by myself and also have the ability to do such things, such as plan a trip for this break. Being back home, I’ve definitely realized the differences in cultures between here and Spain. But the good thing is (which I anticipated otherwise) is that I’m not critical in an unhealthy way. I don’t compare the two and say one’s better than the other or have hatred towards the US now that I’ve experience living in Europe. Rather, I notice the differences in the people and the day-to-day life and see how I can apply my knowledge of both cultures to make me a better person and live a more enjoyable life. As Slimbach said, “the postsojourn process should help us to integrate the experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives” (10). And I’m glad that the experiences and insights from the field will allow me to grow as an individual. Overall I haven’t found that I’ve gathered many unhealthy habits that need to be broken. Nor have I had any major challenges reintegrating with my home community. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while abroad, it’s how to adapt to change. That was something I was definitely lacking prior but I’ve certainly picked up on it, and almost encourage change at this point. So thankfully, my reintegration process has been pretty smooth.

Sharing my reincorporation letter with my family was an awesome experience. It was a way for me to let them know my progress and personal growth I underwent while abroad. It also made them aware to all of the various emotions and phases I’m experiencing right now as a result of coming home. As always, they were extremely understanding. Being in a family of all healthcare workers, they’re used to lots of change in their day-to-day routine. I think that’s made them more aware of how I feel; they understand the effect change has on an individual, although they may not know it to this extent, as they never studied abroad. They’ve acknowledged the fact that I’m more independent and “travel-savvy.” I also believe they’ve noticed that I’m a little bit of a different person than I was before. The quote I shared with them, which is also the quote that accurately represents my thoughts and feelings right now is by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It says: “it’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” I couldn’t agree more with this quote. Nothing has really changed in my town. A few new houses went up, a couple roads were repaved and a gas station was remodeled. That’s about it. Yet I’m still sitting here knowing that it’s just not the same as before I left in August. I’m beginning to realize that it is me that has changed. I find myself more respectful of the various cultures and people here. I find a new appreciation for those who struggle to speak English when trying to do even simple tasks. But I also find that I’m not nearly as amused with the day to day life here as opposed to back in Spain. But overall, I’m glad to be home and my family is glad to be home. They’re supportive of what I’m going through and are sure to do anything they can to ensure a smooth and healthy reincorporation for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Log 15: “There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation” by Jenna Paul. Los Angeles, Ca.

Who would have thought that returning to what I always thought was my favorite place in the world, home, would be so difficult. Leaving Ireland behind and returning to America wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. You get into such a routine living in Europe and now it is all changed again. You make lifetime friends and then just have to say goodbye for who knows how long. Some of the challenges I have faced in this reincorporation phase include driving on the right side of the road again, having tax not included in the price, and coming back to violence and anger. In Los Angeles, there is a huge movement going on called “Black Lives Matter”. The most violence that a person deals with in Ireland is probably a drunk guy on the street. Here in America that is a completely different story, unfortunately. These are just a few of the things that I have had to readjust to by coming back home. Slimbach comments on some of these when he states, “To the extent that certain basic assumptions about the world have been challenged through our cross-cultural environment, we may find ourselves painfully out of joint with life back home” (205). I agree that life is just different at home, but eventually it will all seem “normal” again.

When sharing my Reincorporation Letter with my parents, I had many emotions going through my head. Of course I am happy to be home, where I get to see my family, friends and of course my puppy. The quote I chose to share with my parents was “Home is where the heart is”. Ireland will always have a special place in my heart and I will always want to be back there. But, I have to realize that America is my home and life can be just as great here as it was there. I explained to them how I learned a lot while being abroad and have come back with a different outlook on life for the better. They were of course so happy to hear all of this and thrilled my experience was so great.

I learned so many great things while being abroad. I hope that I can carry these “gems” into my life here in America as well. One example is how healthy I was while being abroad. For instance, I walked everywhere. Some days I was walking around 12 miles and I hope to continue to walk and see the world even hear in my home town. Of course it will be different. Maybe I will choose to walk to the store rather than drive like I normally would. Also, the food was so fresh and healthy in Europe. I plan to eat healthy as much as possible here in America as well by going organic. I feel healthier and I want to stay that way.IMG_0041

The quote that I have chosen to represent how I am feeling is, “Don’t be afraid of change. You might lose something good, but you’ll gain something better” –unknown. Of course it is difficult to leave such an amazing place, but that doesn’t mean home isn’t just as great. They are very different places and have different positives and negatives to them. It is important for me to use those positives to my advantage and live life to the fullest no matter where I am in the world. I might have left my amazing friends back in Ireland, but I also came home to amazing family and other friends. I have to appreciate what I have in life and be thankful for it all.

There’s No Place Like Home? Rites of Reincorporation Sam McGrath, Norwood, MA

 

It feels weird, to say the least, to be back on American soil. Right when I got off the plane in JFK airport differences were very apparent. Gone are the Irish accents I had become so accustom to, replaced now with the “normal” American accent. Gone are the rolling hills of the Irish countryside, replaced with big buildings and urbanization. Gone is the helpful hand of strangers on the streets, replaced now with hustle and bustle from one place to the next.

 

The week back in general has been a week full of changes, going along with the changes I have encountered while abroad. Just as I moved to traveling and exploration, life here has moved on as well. I am not caught up with all of the things that have happened to my family and friends in the past months when I was not with them. This in itself has been hard to get up-to-date with and leaves us on different plains of thought and conversation. As much as I would like to talk about my experiences while abroad I know that it’s not really something a lot of friends and family can relate to and converse about. They have had other pressing matters they’ve run into during their time in the states and it’s harder for them to make good conversation for too long about something that they don’t have a lot of personal information about.

 

The different journey that I have gone on puts me in a liminal threshold of feelings. Trying to step back into the “new” culture that is America has been difficult since I have been away for such a long time. It’s been a struggle trying to integrate the person that I became in Ireland within the new/old culture of America. I think that through the support of my family and friends this can be done much easier and is a reason why the Reincorporation Letter with my family created a good starting point for that.

 

I decided to talk to my parents about my reincorporation on Christmas Day. On this day we entirely devote ourselves to the family and is the only time where I can have everybody sitting down in one place. Since we spend a lot of time together during this part of the year, I was able to have as much time as needed to lay everything I had to say on the table and be open about my reincorporation. Although I was initially nervous about the forwardness of the letter and the process, I pushed through and was very happy about the response from my family.

 

At the start of the talk while we were eating Christmas dinner, the topic came up about my time in Ireland and I used that to segue into my reincorporation. I explained the topic and how there will be difficulties in the coming weeks as I get used to incorporating the changes I underwent in Ireland to my old life in America. I then showed them a picture on my phone of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

As corny and weird as it is, Ireland was my cocoon. I was able to mature and develop in the new environment, becoming a better me. To keep this development going though, my reincorporation has to be smooth, if it is not then the growth that I’ve undergone could lose it’s full potential. I explained how with their help a smooth transition could be made possible. When the topic of Ireland comes about in the future, I told them it would be beneficial for us to less talk about the travel of my trip and more talk about how my perception was changed during it. This would also enlarge the conversation, allowing them to contribute about how they’ve experienced those same changes in other areas of their lives. This change in conversation will allow me remember my changes better and carry my experiences abroad past the airport terminal and into my life in America. After I told about my reincorporation my brother and parents expressed their openness to helping in the process. They understood that it could be difficult and as always were very supportive.

 

Although I feel stuck between two very different worlds with this change of dialogue between those I’m close to I can further the developments I have made while abroad and not revert back to my old, less developed, self. As Craig Storti (1990) says “No one goes home, rather we return to our native country and, in due course, we create a new home.” With the help of friends and family I feel that I can create this new home and further the maturation I have made while abroad, bettering myself in this “new” America.

 

 

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections and Rites of Separation” by Jenna Paul. Cork, Ireland.

It is hard to believe that in less than two weeks I will be back in the United States at home. I am so incredibly sad to be leaving this wonderful country in Ireland. I have learned so much about myself as a person and the world all around me. Having this opportunity for global learning has taught me so much. Studying in Europe has really given me a different outlook and perspective on life that would not have been possible without this experience.

Thinking about the quote from Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning by Richard Slimbach, when he states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within (54).” Studying abroad lets a person feel scared living in a new environment, nervous meeting new people, and anxious being away from home. But with all of that comes experiences that are just not possible at home. For example, while studying in Ireland I got the opportunity to live on a farm, milk a cow and collect chicken eggs. I then ate cheese that came from the same cows I milked earlier in the day. I also had the opportunity to take an international business class while studying abroad, which meant I was in a class full of international students. I talked to people from all over the world weekly and learned so much about the global markets. Another quote by Slimbach that I really related to states, “As such, we have the unique opportunity to connect an inner journey of self-discovery with an outer journey of world discovery (47).” It has been the most amazing time for me to find myself in an unknown world. These experiences wouldn’t have been possible without living in this new world that I have found here.

Becoming a member of the global community has taught me so much and I can only hope that I have inspired the people I met while being here. It is hard to know if what you leave behind is just as great as what you have gained, but I can only hope that I have changed and inspired the friends I made while being abroad. Looking forward I will be bringing not only the memories I have, but also the knowledge and understanding of what I have learned back to America. I hope I can then inspire and teach my family and friends at home and show them everything that these global connections have given me.

Leaving the friends I have made here will be one of the hardest things for me because of the fact that I am not sure when I will get to see them again. We will for sure be having a good-bye dinner and will be talking about the memories we have made this semester. I will make sure to take a walk around this beautiful city and go to my favorite parts to say good-bye and take picture so that I will be able to look back and remember these wonderful times.

I am feeling so sad to be leaving and wish I had more time here in Ireland. I have just been taking every day in and loving each moment I have while I am here. I think it will be hard to go home, but once I am home and able to see friends and family I will feel a lot better.

The quote that expresses how I am feeling is, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”-Albert Einstein. This quote shows how even if it might not feel right to be moving on, it is. Even though I don’t want to leave Ireland right now, I have to and it will all be okay in the end.

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Jared Walsh. Barcelona, Spain

Slimbach’s quote, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” is a great concise way of summing up my time abroad. I’ve learned about Europe, but more importantly a lot about myself. The things I’ve done, the interactions I’ve had, and the places I’ve traveled have taught me to be more open minded and accepting. And just as Slimbach says at a later point in his text, “external experience may occupy most of our waking hours, but we ultimately live from the depths of our being—from our intentions, ideas and impulses” (65). It’s not just the externalities, but how I’ve changed as a person.

My global connections have contributed to my growth as a member of the global community greatly. The biggest amount of growth I’ve experienced in my opinion is that I’ve become more appreciative and accepting of cultures. Each country I visited had such different ways of living. It was amazing to be able to experience a little of each of them. It’s changed my opinion on some things and gotten rid of some stereotypes. It’s also given me a general awareness of Europe as a whole, thus making me a better global citizen.

As the time draws nearer, I’m getting excited to head home. While I love Europe, there’s just no place like home. But don’t let my excitement mask my melancholy. While I can’t wait to go home I’m also going to greatly miss this side of the Atlantic. It’s the cliché bittersweet feeling, I know. I’ve had the time of my life while abroad and nothing will ever be able to replace it. The strong bonds I’ve formed with the people and the culture here are something very new to me; I can’t say I’ve had a feeling like this before. Traveling the world with others takes it a step further from just living with them. But that’s why I’ve been adamant that I want to keep the friendships I’ve made abroad. As a sort of ‘goodbye’ I took everyone out to dinner this past weekend when we were all traveling together in Budapest. It was great to reflect on all the times we’ve had while and abroad and gave us a chance to really understand the depth of friendship that has been created and to appreciate that. I think my emotions and actions right now will make the reincorporation phase of this Rite of Passage a bit more difficult than I expected. By this point I assumed I would be perfectly fine picking up my things and heading home, but that’s not the case. The relationships I’ve formed are most likely going to make it a bit more difficult for me to reincorporate because I’ll have that added emotional burden.

The quote I chose to describe my current thoughts/feelings at this moment in the experience is “you will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place,” by Miriam Adeney. This perfectly describes how I’m currently feeling: a bittersweet nostalgia. I know, I haven’t left yet, but the semester is rapidly coming to an end and it’s been evident that my time here is coming to and end. I’ve taken the past few days to really think about my abroad experience—how many new places I’ve been to, how many awesome new people I’ve met. I’ll fully admit that I am excited to head home back to Rhode Island where everyone speaks English! But as I’m packing my things here I can’t help but feel that I’m going to leave a little bit of myself here in Europe. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing! I’ll forever have the bonds between the friends I’ve made during this semester and that is something I’ll cherish.

 

 

 

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Jared Walsh. Barcelona, Spain

I write this with only 19 days remaining on what has perhaps been the greatest time of my life. I’ve gotten to explore eight European countries, learning about each area’s culture along the way. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey too. During my time abroad I have become more aware of the global community. This course in particular has also been essential to my growth as an individual and as a global citizen. I definitely agree with Blumenkrantz and Goldstein that the absence of community-based rituals presents a problem for the healthy development of the Global Community. The authors argue that American’s don’t acknowledge cultural rituals in a way that effectively help children to transition into adulthood. This layout doesn’t promote the growth of the individual. The authors state this when they said, “In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally.” The American youth of today is more prone to mixing in with the crowd and being blind to worldly concepts. Taking this course and going abroad has given me new worldly perspectives, made me more sensitive to other cultures, and a better global citizen. Having a clear structure of a right of passage with a community base has had a large effect on me as an individual, which makes me more aware to this issue that Blumenkrantz and Goldstein point out (and makes me feel very positively about it as well).

A digital story is one that provides a viewpoint into our times abroad. It offers a deeper perspective through each individual’s experience. You get to look through another lens for the few minutes and see the before and after of the student. In essence, it is a culmination and summarization of the entire journey. It allows those that watch it to appreciate and understand how you’ve changed as an individual over the last three months. The three elements of rites of passage that I have chosen are time alone for reflection, silence and adversity or personal challenge. The time alone for reflection and silence go hand in hand for me. They play important roles in my life because naturally I’m a very quiet person. I like to have my own space and tend to reflect quite a lot. Having time alone to do these things help me to sort out what is important in my life and also allows me to gather and understand my values, actions and beliefs. I especially enjoy having time alone for reflection in nature, such as on a mountain or along the shore of a lake. The other element that is of importance to me is adversity or personal challenge, which is described as “experiences that challenge the individual emotionally and/or physically and which present opportunities to learn new values and/or skills. This can easily be related to my time abroad because of the language barrier here. Entering Spain with very little knowledge of Spanish was intimidating and quite challenging. It remains a challenge to this day but it has presented me with an opportunity to learn new skills. Today I can now get along on a daily basis speaking basic Spanish to order food, or just have a very basic conversation with someone. That’s something I’m very happy that I’ve been able to accomplish on this journey.

The digital story that I connected most with was Caitlin Murphy’s who studied abroad in the Netherlands. I found that the elements within her story are very similar to the ones I plan on using in mine. She described how she went on this journey to do it for herself; she made it her responsibility to keep moving throughout the roller coaster of emotions that one experiences abroad. I liked how she used the metaphor of a bike, and that studying abroad is like riding without clamping down on the brakes. She encouraged pedaling through life, for it will lead one to new places and to a new state of mind. The elements I found as common themes were silence and time to reflect. She mentioned the times she sat in the park in the mornings just closing her eyes as well as other times in which she reflected on her time abroad. It seemed like she grew as a person and that her time abroad had a big effect on her. I hope that I too can have that feeling of personal growth by the end of my time here.

 

TL 11 “Holding Up Half the Sky” by Kaitlyn Shortell- Paris, France

I can confidently say Half the Sky was one of the most gut-wrenching, yet informative documentaries I have ever seen in my life. If I were to try and discuss this with family and friends, I feel like the only thing I would be able to say is that it is just a movie that everyone should see. I would tell them that it is a film that openly discussed the challenges that women and girls face, that have been completely stifled for generations, the even call it “the moral challenge of this century”. The overall message that I would say comes from Half the Sky, is that we need to look at society as a whole and what we can do to engage, educate, and motivate people to make a difference. This includes women and their role, across the globe, and unfortunately there is a large percentage of women who are oppressed in so many different ways. Underlying this message, I think there is a message, reminding us how important it is to inform ourselves of things that are going on around us that we don’t always “see”. I don’t know if there is one story that impacted me more than another, on some level I felt I connected with them all just in the simple fact that I am a woman too. But at the same time, any man should feel he same connection to an extent because all of these women are people, just like they are. For me, I think the story that impacted me the most personally, was the topic of Intergenerational Prostitution. If I think about how important my family has been in encouraging me to strive to do the best that I can to get where I am today academically and personally, I realize how essential their support was. In this segment, one of the moms was actually arguing with the woman who started the school there, saying she did not want her daughter to go to school. I cannot imagine my own mother keeping me from getting a primary education. This was essentially leaving her daughter with no other option but to continue in her footsteps into prostitution because that is all this little girl would know. It was a very intense conversation, and it was crazy to see this woman advocating for this young girl to her own mother. Luckily, America Ferrera, Nicholas Kristof, and the woman who owned the school were able to convince the mother. But, not to long after, the mother said they were moving away to live with her father, and she would be pulling her daughter from the school. It was almost guaranteed she would end up in prostitution like the other women in her family, but the little girl seemed to have not much of a reaction. In the second part of the movie, at the Edna Adan hospital we learned about how the hospital came to be and the work that Edna did there. Her mission was to teach enough midwives how to practice, so that there was at least one in every surrounding village, to increase the maternal mortality rate. I think this particular story impacted me, because I felt of all the stories I heard, this was the one that I could actually make a positive contribution in with my field of study in Health Science, and my career path. There is an organization that has had my attention for years, called Doctors without Borders. They travel to countries mostly in Africa who are lacking in medical attention. It has always been a dream of mine to go and work with this organization after I graduate for a year or two. I don’t know if it’s the most practical, but if I could go to this hospital and help educate women to be midwives I would be pretty happy to be part of changing those statistics.

Travel Log 12: “Service” by Jared Walsh. Barcelona, Spain.

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.

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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.