by Katie Dudek
Embarking on Another Journey
Hola! My name is Katie Dudek, and I am a senior majoring in both Sociology and Spanish. As I have been introducing myself to my classmates this week, it has really hit me that I am in fact a senior. I don’t want to sound cliché, but the last three years I have spent here at the University of Illinois have really flown by. I have enjoyed every minute I have spent here, and feel that I have really taken advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that I have been presented with. I am very excited to about the newest opportunity that I have been offered. Through SPAN 232, I have the chance to volunteer at Booker T. Washington Elementary School and help Spanish-speaking students. As I hope to become certified as a teacher after I graduate, I am thrilled to be spending my Wednesday afternoons there.
I cannot wait to be around native Spanish-speakers once again. This past spring, I spent my semester in Granada, Spain. I really do not think that I have ever learned more in a semester. Not only did I absorb everything that was being taught in my Spanish-intensive classes, but I also learned a lot through spending time with the natives of Granada, especially my host mom (next to me in the picture). Angeles is an 80 year-old firecracker. She goes to aerobics classes three days a week, is personal friends with almost every street vendor and storeowner on Calle de Obispo Hurtado (the street her apartment is located on), and loves watching very dramatic telenovelas on Canal Sur. I will never forget how each night as we were eating dinner, we would wait in anticipation for the theme song to Arrayán to start playing. I learned so much from her. She taught me about the foods we were eating, the importance of Semana Santa (Holy Week), the intense rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, and so much more. We developed a very close relationship all while speaking in Spanish. That was our common bond.
I am ecstatic to be able to communicate and build more relationships through the Spanish language. Choosing to work at Booker T. Washington is something that I am really looking forward to. Not only do I want to improve my Spanish, but also love working with children. The past few summers I have been a camp counselor in Dubuque, Iowa, so whenever I am back in Champaign I find myself missing interaction with children. I also need to switch up my silly band collection, so that is something to look forward to as well. I have an orientation at the school next Tuesday, and I will hopefully be able to start soon after that. I cannot wait to tell you all about my volunteer experience this semester! Just like Spain, it will be another journey from which I will have plenty of stories to tell!