Hilary Smith (Spanish and Certificate in LACS, 2005) with the
Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires
Engagement Abroad: Independent Interim & Semester in Argentina
Projects: Latin American Capstone & Seniors Honors Thesis
on Memory in Post-Dictatorial Argentina
"Meeting the Madres and witnessing . . .
their struggle for social justice was an extremely intense and
gratifying experience. At first I was timid, afraid to talk to
them about their experiences during the dictatorship and the work
that they have done in its aftermath since it is an intensely
personal and painful history for each of them. Studying the abuses
of the dictatorship had been difficult for me, and as much as
I truly cared, I knew I could never come close to imagining the
loss of a child under any circumstances let alone the horrendous
circumstances of the dictatorship. All that in mind, though, I
knew it was an amazing opportunity, and the women had been so
friendly and open when I had met them in the plaza that I went
to their office to conduct the interviews I had asked them if
they'd be willing to do. In particular, I spoke with Tati Almeida,
a mother who had, nearly 30 years before, lost her son Alejandro,
then just 20 years old. We made coffee, got settled, turned on
the tape recorder, and I dove in ..."
Study Abroad Experience with IES, BsAs, Fall 2003
Traci Lynch (Spanish & Biology, 2008) with children in Ecuador
Engagement Abroad: Independent Interim and Semester in Ecuador
"Working with the children was very humbling.
Many of the children work on the streets after school and have
to balance the pressure from their parents to make money with
their studies. When I think back to my experience, I remember
one particular day when it started to pour while we were walking
to the center. I got soaked. I was rather grumpy by the time we
arrived, and frankly I wanted to go home and change. Looking back
on the situation, I am embarrassed by my reaction. I was on my
way to spend time with children who do not even have a home. It
rains in Quito almost every day, and these children are probably
soaked on a regular basis. We are so accustomed to putting ourselves
first as a resulf of our comfortable lives in the US, that even
when poverty is staring us in the face it is hard to relinquish
our egotism. Nevertheless, the experience was extremely rewarding,
even though it wasn't supposed to be about what WE gained."
Study Abroad Experience through an Independent Interim (sponsors
Dr. J Arrington & LBarbas Rhoden) and SIT, Ecuador
Bryan Ellis (Spanish & Biology, 2007) with children in an
Engagement Abroad: Independent Interim & Semester
of Study in Argentina
"I volunteered at an organization for underprivileged children
in a suburb of Argentina.
My work was a part of a class that I took on Service Learning
while abroad. We spent 1 1/2 hrs in class a week and were required
to spend 3-6 hours a week at our volunteer organization. One day
when was sick I wasn't able to go to my organization. The next
week when I came the children approached me with concern as to
why I had missed a week. When I assured them I was fine their
outlook immediately changed as they grabbed my arms and dragged
me to the garden. Jumping up and down with excitement they pointed
at what I could barely notice: one of the squash plants had flowered.
I was able to develop relationships with locals
in Argentina (both the children and the women running the program)
that I never would have gotten to know otherwise. I also got to
exerience a completely different side of Argentine than what I
lived daily with my privileged host family in the capital. My
volunteering offered me not only totally unique memories but also
an introduction to what I want to do after I graduate.
Don't let academic requirements discourage you from volunteering
abroad. I double majored in Biology and Spanish and it is definitely
worth a little extra stress to get to know the country you are
living in beyond the tourist aspect. As soon as you arrive abroad,
get involved. The longer you wait, the more you will have going
on and the less likely you will be to look for a place to volunteer."
Semester Abroad Experience with CIEE in Buenos
Kristen Davis (Spanish & Certificate in LACS, 2009) in Bolivia
Engagement Abroad: Semester and Summer Service Internship with
Ninos con Valor in Bolivia (2008)
Semester Abroad Experience with SIT in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Megan Klipfel (Spanish and Biology, 2010) in Nicaragua with Alex
Ridenour (Spanish and Religion, 2010) and Jessica Walker (Biology,
2010) during Interim 2008
Engagement Abroad: Interim and Summer Service
Work in Nicaragua (2008)
"After spending May-June in Nicaragua, I
am excited about coming home, but also sad about leaving the kids
at the children's shelter. Today the children were out of school
so we filled up water balloons and made our own slip n slide-
they absolutely LOVED it. It was a perfect day for water activities,
too, one of the hottest days so far. This summer we interns have
been coming up with activities for the kids to do outside of the
center so they don't feel like they are in a prison. Two nights
ago another intern and I took the 4 older girls out to eat at
a nice restaurant. They were really shy- but we had a good time.
Another thing we are doing: we have 31 kids at the center, but
a lot are siblings, so we have been incorporating family activities.
One night a family of 3 went with some interns to see Hulk in
the movie theater."
Independent Interim '08 sponsored by Dr. Barbas
Rhoden. Summer work funded in part by a Wofford Quest grant.