Citizen Scholar Carla Simone experienced a different culture while teaching English to students in first through seventh grade at Colegio Norbridge in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as part of a two-month summer internship.
“The program in Argentina made me learn things about myself that I did not previously know,” Simone said. “I learned how to adapt to any situation, to be okay with going outside of my comfort zone, to problem solve in various situations, and that it is okay to ask for help when you need it.”
As a Spanish major with a Teaching English as to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) minor, Simone is interested in languages and wanted hands-on experience working with students in a school setting.
“From working one-on-one with students to teaching lessons, my internship allowed me to gain real-world experience of what everyday life is like in a classroom,” she said. “My favorite part was talking with the students and creating bonds with them. Also, working one-on-one with students who needed help with assignments and then seeing their face’ light up when they got the correct answer.”
The program in Argentina made me learn things about myself that I did not previously know. I learned how to adapt to any situation, to be okay with going outside of my comfort zone, to problem solve in various situations, and that it is okay to ask for help when you need it.
While in Argentina, Simone also took a two-week Spanish intensive class that helped improve her overall skills with the language.
“That class pushed me to make progress upon my pre-existing skills with Spanish while also teaching me new ones, such as learning about regional-based dialogues,” she said. “That is an aspect of learning that I would not have been able to experience in a traditional classroom setting.”
Even with this Spanish class, one of the challenges Simone said she faced during her time in Argentina was the language barrier.
“I thought I knew the language, but being in an environment where there are native speakers made me realize I had to work harder to communicate,” she said. “More specifically, the younger students mostly spoke Spanish, so trying to help them learn English was difficult.”
In her third year of both the Spanish major and the Citizen Scholars program, Simone explained how the two build off one another and work together to enhance her overall education.
“Part of the Spanish curriculum is to learn about a different culture, and the same goes for the Citizen Scholars program. They always encourage you to immerse yourself in cross-cultural events, and that is something that has expanded my knowledge about how people differ,” Simone said. “When I was in Argentina, I realized how the Citizen Scholars program has made me more aware of cultural differences. It has shown me how culture makes up a large part of many people’s lives, and that was something I had to get used to while I was there. Without the Citizen Scholars program, I would not have been as prepared for those differences.”
One of Simone’s most memorable experiences from her time in Argentina was going to Iguazu Falls (pictured at the top), which are a group of waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.
“They are one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and seeing them was breathtaking,” she said. “It was mind blowing to see that nature can create something so beautiful.”
Students who complete the Citizen Scholars program receive a $5,000 scholarship, which can be used for study abroad, study away, undergraduate research, internships, or other enrichment opportunities. Simone plans to use her funding for the Hispanic Studies program in Valencia, Spain, during the Spring 2020 semester.
The Citizen Scholars program provides students with crucial experiences. It not only gives you the opportunity to do things like internships, volunteering, and study abroad, but it also fosters meaningful relationships.
“I want to use my funding for that program because it allows me to take a full semester of Spanish classes in a Spanish-speaking country, and there is a great deal of value in that,” she said. “I am most looking forward to the opportunities to speak Spanish in classes, with my host family, and other students. My main goal with Hispanic Studies is to improve my Spanish listening and conversation skills, and that is the perfect place to do so.”
After she graduates, Simone would like to work as a secondary Spanish teacher. She also would like to work overseas as an English teacher.
“I can take the knowledge that being a Citizen Scholar has given me and use it to benefit my future classroom,” she said. “The Citizen Scholars program has definitely broadened my horizons. It has made me far more aware of global and national issues, and it has allowed me to go to a variety of events on campus that I would not have otherwise heard about or thought to attend. Because of the program, I can now confidently say I will be able to educate my future students about cultural topics that they need to know about.”
Simone offers the following advice for students considering joining the Citizen Scholars program: “The Citizen Scholars program provides students with crucial experiences. It not only gives you the opportunity to do things like internships, volunteering, and study abroad, but it also fosters meaningful relationships. I have met many other Citizen Scholars who share similar interests as myself, and I would not have built those relationships without this program. If you are interested in learning about new subject matters that you may not be familiar with, or if you simply want a way to meet people who you have commonalities with, then the Citizen Scholars program is for you. It fulfills both of those areas well while also teaching you more about the College of Arts & Letters and the endless opportunities it offers.”