Last summer, I had the pleasure of interning at the Latino Family Center in Pittsburgh. The Latino Family Center is under the jurisdiction of the Allegheny Intermediate Union (AIU), which commissions several family support centers that are community based programs designed to provide families with support resources. The LFC provides a variety of resources including Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC), Parents as Teachers (PAT), ESL classes, prenatal classes, and consejo de padres (parent support groups). During my internship, I primarily contributed by helping organize and execute a summer program for Latino youth. We organized trips to museums, a book study, and adventure days. I also had the opportunity to help with the Immigrant Services and Connections team (ISAC) by connecting monolingual immigrants with services available to them. By being in an environment where the majority of clients preferred speaking in Spanish, I spoke Spanish most of the day and improved my language fluency. I also gained a better understanding of the Latino community. Spending my summer there taught how to speak Spanish in a professional environment and how to manage clients. I very much enjoyed my time at the LFC and would highly recommend interning there to anyone looking to serve the Latino community and increase their Spanish language fluency.
- Christine Mikhael ‘17
Since I was young, I loved the idea of traveling, seeing the world and I wanted a job that would allow me that. There were times where I considered being an archaeologist, flight attendant; I even thought about joining the army. As I got older, I started thinking more about what God wanted, and less about what I wanted. It took years before I finally got the answer; teaching! However, it wouldn’t be until high school that I realized, by following God’s plan, I could still have my dream of traveling. I felt led to teach abroad; to teach English in local communities around the world. Now, although I now knew what God wanted from me in life, I still wasn’t sure how we were going to get there. Fortunately, God led me to Grove City College. There I learned how to be a teacher and furthered my Spanish skills. Being at Grove City also allowed me the opportunity to study abroad in Spain which further cemented my desire to teach abroad. Grove City College molded me into the person I am today; a person who is going to Ecuador with the Peace Corps.
I didn’t decide to join the Peace Corps until nearly a month from graduating Grove City College. It’s been a long process, but after submitting my application in June, I was invited to join and volunteer in Ecuador in late August. Now, just because you are invited to join the Peace Corps does not mean you are guaranteed to work as a volunteer. Once you’re invited to join, there’s another long process in making sure you can go. The first is to get medically cleared, which means a lot of paperwork and a lot of shots. This includes everything ranging from my eye prescription to bloodwork, and then after that there’s still more that you have to do in order to maintain your status as a volunteer. I’ve had to send in my fingerprints for a federal clearance, and currently I’m completing a special online program for the TEFL volunteers. It takes a lot of time to apply and even more to maintain your invitation.
During my time in Ecuador, I will be expected to perform a number of duties. The priority of course, as a member of the Peace Corps’ TEFL program (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), is to teach English alongside of Ecuadorian high school teachers. Now as anyone in the education sphere will know, being an educator involves much more than just teaching and the same goes for teachers in the Peace Corps. As a teacher in the Peace Corps, I am expected to teach English to students, partake in Professional Development sessions and activities, help improve the abilities of local teachers to teach English, help improve communication and dialogue between the teacher community, improve resource utilization, and improving community involvement in the school and English programs. It’s a lot to do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- Angela Rajm