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?