My thematic area is Cultures in Contact with a concentration in “Social Work in Latino communities”. My region is Latin America and my language is Spanish, although I informally study Portuguese and anything related to Brazil as a hobby.
Since my sophomore year I’ve been involved with a campus ministry called Illini Life Christian Fellowship (I-Life). In I-Life, I’ve led a small group, served on the student board, and spent time in Honduras doing mission work by working with a support group for women with HIV.
When I studied abroad in Ecuador, I volunteered as an English teacher to kids in my village.
While on campus I’ve also done a lot of volunteering, mostly through the classes SPAN 232 (Spanish in the Community), ENG 315 (Learning in the Community), SOCW 412 (Hispanics in the US) and SPAN 332 (Spanish and Entrepreneurship). Some of the work that I’ve done includes working with the Refugee Center’s Saturday Morning Tutoring Program and working with the Latino Family Liaison of the Urbana School District to make informational videos about resources available to Latino/Spanish speaking families in the C-U area.
After I graduate this May, I will be returning to Honduras as a ministry intern for 8 weeks. After that, I plan to return to Urbana-Champaign for a year or so to work in the community and stay involved with my campus ministry. In about a year or two, I would like to pursue a Masters in Social Work. After that, I would like pursue a career in social ministry – ministering to marginalized populations wherever I’m living.
Advice for Incoming Global Studies Students
Your plans are going to change. You are going to change. Be open to it, embrace it, and take advantage of it. The Global Studies major leaves a lot of room for flexibility and exploration (both on campus and all over the world through various programs) so have fun!
Fondest Undergraduate Memory
To put it simply: I don’t really have one. I try to keep my eyes and my heart open to the blessings tucked into my everyday life - whether it’s as flashy as the chance to ride a camel in Israel on a winter break trip or as simple as having a heart-to-heart conversation on the quad with a close friend on an warm afternoon. Also, my undergraduate experience, while it has lasted 4 years, is such a small percentage of my life as a whole (assuming that I live to be an elderly person). So in a sense, my undergraduate experience as a whole is a fond memory in and of itself.
Most Challenging Moment as an Undergraduate
My most challenging moment as an undergraduate would definitely be my study abroad experience. I studied abroad in Ecuador during my sophomore year. Although I had only taken up to SPAN 141, I took all my classes in Spanish with other Ecuadorian students with 4 of them being classes for the major (the 5th being a French class) and 3 of them being 300-level. I remember going to my classes the first couple days and not being able to take notes because I didn’t understand what they were saying and spending HOURS looking up words in the dictionary to do my readings. Although I spent more time studying and doing homework than I would have preferred, I ended up getting all As and learned a ton of Spanish.
If you’re interested in ministry, missions, or study abroad (in Ecuador and Israel), you may contact April at firstname.lastname@example.org