My name is Lindsay Saunders. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University studying social work –mainly because of the great pay (funny joke). I am from the cactus-filled Phoenix, Arizona, but I go to school in the cooler, forests of Flagstaff. My social work degree ends with a field placement (internship) for my last semester, and I have the privilege of doing mine in Quito, Ecuador. I will be involved with the project, Teen Single Mothers (TSM). TSM works with young mothers to equip them with the skills they will need for their future: such as, job training, education, or parenting. TSM empowers young moms to be successful. I do not yet know what my responsibilities will be at TSM; but I am looking forward to being a part of the project!
Working with the lovely ladies of Ecuador will require me to use my Spanish. I have taken classes in high school, and the past three and a half years at the university. This past semester, I took Conversational Spanish, and I have become very good at responding to questions directed at me with a smile partnered with a “si.” Once in Ecuador, I am expecting it to be difficult, but I am praying that out of necessity I will improve quickly. As I have been packing, I have been having Spanish conversations in my head (for practicing purposes of course). However this has led to mini panic attacks: for example: as I was using scissors, I couldn’t remember what the word was in Spanish. My mind then created a very realistic life or death situation where I needed to ask for scissors, but because of my inability to recall a first year Spanish term; I would most likely die. Luckily, I then remembered the word for scissors are tijeras, and hope in my second language skills was restored. All that to say: furthering my Spanish is one of the reasons I chose to be in Ecuador. I want to be able to have useful Spanish skills that I will use in my career (or life or death situations), and learning out of necessity sounds like an ideal way to do it.
I decided to go abroad with World Endeavors for a few reasons. I had spent at least a semester looking into organizations that I could go through that would meet the requirements for my field placement. This is harder than it sounds, after I visited my school’s international office, they connected me with World Endeavors. I am fairly certain by the next day World Endeavors provided me with several options that were tailored to my preferences abroad, AND going through World Endeavors meant that the credits I would earn would transfer easily. As a senior graduating in May, easy credit transfer was slightly important to me. This coming semester will fulfill my degree requirements, further a second language, all while getting to live in another culture. I AM SO STOKED!
Expectations… I have traveled enough to know that I do not want to have too many of them. While in Ecuador, my expectations are to gain real-life, cross-cultural, social work experience, and improve in my Spanish. Of course if I have the opportunity to travel to the beach, rainforest, Amazon, maybe Peru?, the Galapagos, or hike anywhere; I will not be complaining. I would also really like to find a place to volunteer at, preferably where I can hold babies. Rather than fill my head with what I expect to happen in order for my time in Ecuador to be enjoyable, I am excited to have the possibility for many different opportunities. After my internship I hope to look back at my first entry and not regret the time I had, and to know that I will be a better social worker because of my experiences!