My name is Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova, and I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am a rising Junior in Sewickley Academy high school. I first learned about Outreach360 as an organization through my school's Global Studies Certificate Program Coordinator. I have always been interested in global engagement and service, and after learning about Outreach30's Virtual Summer Internship, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to engage with and serve others, despite the COVID-19 pandemic proving a challenge for international travel and contact.
I have always been passionate about language learning; I study Spanish and Mandarin at school and speak Ukrainian, Russian, as well as English. I chose to serve as an English teacher during my internship because I believe that learning languages is the key to success in our over-diversifying world. I hoped that by working with the students in Monte Cristi, I could make a difference in their lives, specifically through the means of language.
Coming into the program, I was quite unsure what to expect. I had never volunteered with Outreach360 before, and I wasn't sure if I was ready to lead a class. However, the program made me step out of my comfort zone, and working with the students was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Despite the virtual barrier, the teachers were able to impact the students' lives, and they were equally as able to leave an imprint on ours. As teachers, we had many tools at our disposal to make learning enjoyable and effective. We used the video application "Zoom," where we connected with the students every day. This application allowed us to share quizzes, games, and videos with the students easily, and use tools, such as the whiteboard effect, to make sure the students were learning while still enjoying themselves. Because we were online, we had access to many more resources than we would have had access to if we were teaching in person. This helped improve their retention of key concepts, and by the end of the month, we could definitely see the improvement in their speaking and writing. Despite some technical difficulties, such as power outages or trouble connecting, the online format worked very well and was an effective teaching and learning tool.
Seeing the students' excitement to learn and engagement in every lesson was so inspirational. They came to class every day with a smile on their faces and the joyful greeting, "Hello Teacher!", and worked up until the very last minute of class. Seeing them enjoy learning and get excited about new activities was very rewarding.
Personally, by working with the students, I gained a lot more self-confidence. Going into the program, I was hesitant and often had a hard time leading class. However, when I finally took over and taught an entire class by myself, I realized that I was capable of so much more than I had initially given myself credit for. By teaching the students, I learned that I am capable of leadership, even though it took a little nudge out of my comfort zone at the beginning.
Aside from teaching class, I enjoyed the Spanish classes that Outreach360 offered the remote interns. We had Spanish classes every other day, and these were memorable for me because of the full language immersion. Our class spoke only Spanish during every class, and it was the first time I had the opportunity to do so. I improved significantly in my ability to understand conversation and also improved in my speaking skills, although those still need a little more work. I will miss getting to speak Spanish in class and practicing my speaking.
To anyone considering a remote internship, I say, "Do it." You may come into it now knowing what to expect, but if you make the most of it, you will be making such a great impact on the students' lives, and you'll learn more about yourself and your capabilities while serving with Outreach360. The experience will be amazing. Go for it!
Following Milla's Remote Summer Internship with Outreach360, she registered to participate in our two-way language learning Virtual Fall Internship. Learn more about this new Virtual Impact Program opportunity below.
For more information on Outreach360's virtual internships, please visit www.outreach360.org/virtualimpact.