Hello, my name is Austin Levant. I'm from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, but I currently go to school at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. I will be graduating with a history degree in May 2021, and I plan on going to graduate school for anthropology, international development, or Latin American studies.
My first experience with Outreach360 was a week-long trip in the Dominican Republic over the holiday break of 2017-2018. I initially went on this trip because I enjoyed both teaching as well as experiencing new cultures. Fast forward to the summer of 2020, and many job/internship opportunities were canceled due to COVID-19. Fortunately, Tom Eklund from Outreach360 sent me an email asking if I was interested in a new virtual teaching program. I still had an interest in teaching at this time and I wanted to gain experience in virtual teaching as well as continue the service with Outreach360 that I left off in 2018.
I learned a lot from this new opportunity. For one, I didn't have much experience in teaching, especially not in a position where I was in charge of the class. However, the staff at Outreach360 provided me with the many tips and materials that I needed to succeed. The greatest learning experience that I got from this program was the effectiveness of virtual teaching. Prior to teaching, I wasn't sure how well I could teach, or even connect with my students. However, I was quickly proven wrong when I witnessed what my students learned and how we connected with each other in just the first week.
In terms of the learning components of the internship, I really felt like I improved on my Spanish speaking skills over the summer. Over the fall semester, it was interesting to learn the different accents and dialects of Spanish spoken across Latin America.
After the summer internship and my newfound interest in teaching English as a second language, I signed up for an online class that would eventually allow me to live in the countries that I am teaching in. This is something that I am considering pursuing some time in the future, after graduate school.
For those of you like me who struggle with public speaking, I can say that teaching online is completely different from teaching in-person. The class sizes were a lot smaller than I expected, and instead of standing in front of an entire class, you're just looking at the screen you are sharing. Overall, this internship really increased my confidence in a classroom setting.
For more information on Outreach360's virtual internships, please visit www.outreach360.org/virtualimpact!