Thursday, December 13, 2012

Student Reflection

by Erik Bingham

The End of the Start

It is already almost the middle of December and the semester is coming to an end much quicker than I had thought it would. It still feels like I just started working at ECIRMAC even though I have volunteered there almost thirty hours already. While I have finished my required 28 hours for the semester, my work in the community is far from over. I have already asked one of my supervisors if I could come in next week sometime when I am not studying or writing papers and she said she would never say no to extra help. I’m planning on going in at least twice next week like I normally do but if I am extra productive and don’t have to work on my final papers then I might go in another day as well. Next semester I am going to take Spanish and Entrepreneurship, which is the second class in the series of Spanish in the community at the University of Illinois. I am genuinely excited for this class because I am assuming that it will expand on what we have discussed in this class while at the same time providing me with another structured 28-hour requirement of community service. 

I have noticed through my time spent volunteering that many people do not expect me to be a Spanish speaker. I know that it is because I have blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin so they assume that I am just another American who only speaks English. But when I start to ask people “como puedo ayudarle (how can I help you), they are almost immediately relieved (while at the same time surprised) that I speak Spanish and am making an attempt to help them in their native language. Last weekend I volunteered with the Mexican Consulate and I helped people fill out their passport forms. After about 30 minutes of working there, one of the photographers came up to me and asked me if I speak Spanish and that he didn’t think that I would be able to. Once again, I know that he thought that because white people “normally” don’t speak Spanish. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed breaking that stereotype.

For next semester I am torn between continuing to work with ECIRMAC or working at a school. Because I am interested in potentially becoming a teacher in the future, I feel like I should start getting experience in a school. But at the same time I have met some amazing people at ECIRMAC and want to continue to interact with them and perfecting my telephone skills in Spanish. Maybe I’ll work at ECIRMAC one day and a school the other. Life is full of uncertainties and I’ll have to make a decision sometime soon. Either way I know that I will be gaining experience, making a difference, and having fun. What could be better than that?

No comments:

Post a Comment