My name is Ruby Grisin and I live in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. I currently attend high school at The Pennington School in New Jersey. During the fall of 2020, I spent twelve weeks participating in Outreach360’s Virtual Spanish Internship and I consider it one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve taken part in.
I first heard of Outreach360 through my school, which has an annual service trip where students have the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic and spend a week volunteering over spring break. Last winter, I was ecstatic to learn that I had been accepted into this group of students. The week before we were scheduled to depart, my school made the conscientious decision to cancel the spring break trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once I received the news, I realized how much I had been anticipating the trip. It was evident from my already-packed suitcase that I wanted to have this experience, regardless of whether I could teach face-to-face. After searching for other ways to get involved with Outreach360, I found this past fall's virtual internship and I decided to try it.
I originally considered this internship as a second option, one that would only give me a fraction of the experience that traveling to the Dominican Republic would have given me. Now, I can say that it has been so much more than a fraction of an experience! It has been such a fulfilling opportunity — one that has given me the ability to connect with people amidst a global pandemic.
Although it was not the same as teaching in a classroom together, this remote internship allowed me to connect with people I would have never met otherwise. While I initially went into it with a main goal of improving my Spanish-speaking abilities, I left with so much more than that. Not only did I become more confident with the Spanish language, but I also gained an understanding of a community beyond my own and an appreciation of both my students and teaching partners. Each day I joined the Zoom call, I knew I could look forward to seeing my students’ smiles and enthusiasm throughout the lesson.
Seeing the love these students have for learning English was truly inspiring. Even though I was the one teaching the lessons, the students taught me so much more than I could have imagined. I learned how to explain complicated concepts in English lessons to help them understand.
I learned Spanish slang and how to use it. I learned how to use technology to assist my students and make lessons more fun. I learned about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries such as Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. And most importantly, I learned how fulfilling service can be. I would have never guessed how rich this experience would be.
If you are considering taking part in one of Outreach360’s virtual internships, don’t hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity! I honestly do not know where I would be if I had stopped pursuing this service opportunity last fall. Not only will you learn so much about yourself and others, but you will also become a better Spanish-speaker, leader, and person.
For more information on Outreach360's virtual internships, please visit www.outreach360.org/virtualimpact.