by Susannah Koch
The End of the End
It took a lot of will power to write this final blog post for many reasons: 1) most of my motivation to do work is gone (senioritis is in full effect), 2) I refuse to believe that everything is ending and that I am graduating, and 3) this is the very last school-related assignment of my undergraduate career. I cannot believe that things are coming to an end in so many aspects of my life. There are a lot of things that I am going to miss about going to school here, and some things that I will happily leave behind. This semester has been a very busy one, full of preparing to apply to medical school, maintaining my grades whilst everyone around me takes an “easy” final semester, attempting to find a job and having fun. I think that I am ready for what comes next in my life, but there will definitely be a transition period from the life I have led the past four years.
Spanish and the Community and Spanish & Entrepreneurship have been two very unique and wonderful experiences. They have really helped direct me to the place that I am today and have given me confidence in myself and my abilities as a Spanish speaker. This past semester was no exception as it gave me more insight into who I am, what I can handle and exposed me to new resources. I finished my volunteering in the community last week after another exhausting two hours watching four little girls with Vida Alegre. I will admit that my time with Vida Alegre was not what I had in mind going into the experience, but I enjoyed the opportunity to speak in Spanish much more than I usually do and work with kids. I had a few trying moments in which I just wanted to leave the room to breathe, but kids are hard work and you need to have patience and keep cool to be successful. My last few hours with them was no exception, but I had been thinking about activities I could do with them the day before and had remembered how much fun my friends and I would have with our cootie catchers/paper fortune tellers. I made one an hour into the evening and then had requests for three more from the other girls. Sadly they were not interested in learning how to make them, but they had a lot of fun asking each other questions and giving silly answers.
I also met a lot of really wonderful people through Vida Alegre and my interest in psychology has been re-sparked after a two year hiatus from psychology classes at the University. Shinwoo, the project manager of Vida Alegre and our main supervisor, is a wonderfully kind and understanding person. We had the opportunity to chat the last time that I was there and I can see that she really values our help as volunteers and our observations of the children. Overall, my experience was a rich one and I had just as many laughs with the children as moments of pure frustration- one evening one of the children poured her goldfish all over the floor while maintaining eye contact with me. Shinwoo kindly organized an end of the year lunch for all of the Vida Alegre staff. It was a great opportunity to talk with the people who do the more clinical side of the program and learn about the other site in Rantoul.
I have learned so much over the past four years and my time in the two community service learning classes has really contributed to my growth. When I came back from studying abroad I had a quarter-life crisis and was no longer sure of what I wanted to do with my life. It was my volunteer experiences with Provena Hospital in the Language Services Department that reminded me of why I was pursuing medicine and I found the passion I was missing. I cannot thank Ann enough for the opportunity that she gives students with these two classes-they are truly gems of the university. Thanks for everything!