With graduation just a few short days away, senior Lindsey Meyers (on the left in this photo) is enjoying her last few days in Champaign and preparing to walk across the stage and earn her degree in Psychology. The Claredon Hills native faces the uncertain real world with all other graduating seniors, but she differs from all of them in one important way. After graduation and spending the summer working, Lindsey will travel to Quito, Ecuador to spend a year volunteering with The Working Boys Center in the South American city. This mission provides a center for kids and families on the street in Quito to create a home, take classes on various trades and learn English. Working with 10-15 other postgraduate volunteers, Lindsey will work as a teacher in the center, providing any number of classes to students of all ages.
“I’ve always known about it (The Working Boys Center) and I’m active in volunteering and teaching,” said Lindsey as she explained her reasons for going abroad. Indeed, she learned of this center through a family friend who started working there several years ago, and since then the opportunity to volunteer abroad has interested her. Additionally, the center’s location, in Ecuador, opens the door for Lindsey to use her minor in Spanish. She explained that “I get to use my Spanish, to make it useful, and do something good with it.”
Lindsey was enrolled in Spanish in the Community this semester, which she said had a large impact on her decision to go abroad. “Being in class and using Spanish made me more confident and let me pay attention to methods for teaching and engaging students!” said Lindsey. “It was exciting seeing the class environment,” she added.
Spanish in the Community indeed augmented her desire to go abroad and use Spanish, but Lindsey is no stranger to service. She is an active member of Best Buddies, volunteers in a local nursing home and has coached a soccer team in Urbana for three seasons. “Everyone has different talents and does different things, and the best we can do is share them,” she said. Her experience with Spanish in the Community allowed Lindsey to fuse her love of volunteering with her interest in Spanish. “I’m looking forward to being in South America and use Spanish in a new place,” Lindsey said.
Currently, Lindsey is considering returning to graduate school in the fall of 2011 to earn her Masters in Occupational Therapy, focusing in pediatrics. Although these are her existing plans, she is well aware of the impact that a year of service can have on the future. “This could change everything and open my eyes to a whole other variety of things,” Lindsey said. “I might get involved in non-profits or fundraising,” she added.
Lindsey embodies many of the values and ideas central to the Spanish and Illinois program. Her dedication to service, learning and Spanish truly exemplifies the global citizenship we endeavor to foster in our classes. Good luck next year Lindsey!