Civic Engagement in Spanish Abroad

Reach beyond the city's northern border ... beyond Wofford World.



Hilary Smith (Spanish and Certificate in LACS, 2005) with the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires


Hilary Smith

Engagement Abroad: Independent Interim & Semester in Argentina (2003)

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


Traci Lynch

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 after-school program


Bryan Ellis

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 Aires, Argentina


Kristen Davis (Spanish & Certificate in LACS, 2009) in Bolivia


Kristen Davis

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

Megan Klipfel

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.



For more information on study opportunities abroad, speak with study abroad advisers Dr. Annemarie Wiseman & Amy Lancaster. Faculty member Dr. Barbas Rhoden can help you plan meaningful volunteer work while abroad.You can also check out these agencies that offer placements abroad:

Cultural Embrace


(Wofford Alum Kacki Kammann (Spanish, 2001) is on staff with ProWorld)

Cross Cultural Solutions


Page created by Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden

Dr. Barbas Rhoden's Homepage
Service and Civic Engagement, Department of Foreign Languages