Volunteering in Seville, Spain

How Helping Others Helped Me Have the Best Experience in Spain

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By Francie Sentilles | Wednesday, 20 July 2016

As a member of my high school’s science fellowship program, I am required to complete a senior research project. When I first decided I wanted to come to Seville and participate in Centro Mundolengua’s Pre-AP Spanish Program, the only thing that stood in my way was the requirement to complete my research project this summer. Thankfully, Mundolengua’s Community Service Program helped me find a way to work on my research while abroad and, more importantly, to have a positive impact on the community where I am studying.

                My Spanish teacher contacted Centro Mundolengua about setting up a science-related internship while I was here so that I could come on the trip. They told me to enroll in the Community Service Program and set me up with a nonprofit called Pulseras Rosas, a shop that sells products specific to the needs of cancer patients. It offers many styles of turbans and wigs as well as products like natural makeup that will not harm patients’ skin. In addition to the store, Pulseras Rosas has started an initiative to provide free wigs to low-income women. People can donate their hair, which Pulseras Rosas exchanges for wigs, or they can buy pink bracelets (pulserasrosas in Spanish), and the proceedsare used to buy wigs. The organization’s founder runs the organization entirely on her own, so she has really appreciated my help. I make the bracelets, weigh and measure hair donations, and watch all of the sales. It has been an awesome experience because I get to serve others and learn about how to run a nonprofit. Plus, no one in the shop speaks English, so I am forced to practice Spanish whenever I am there. I think my Spanish has improved just as much during the community service portion of my trip as during the Pre-AP class because I never speak English.

                Working at Pulseras Rosas has also been an integral part of my science research project. I designed a survey about body image in breast cancer patients and translated it into Spanish so that clients at Pulseras Rosas can participate in the study. I will compare the results between Spanish and American women to see if and how cultural factors affect body image in breast cancer patients. I love that Centro Mundolengua allowed me to choose an area of interest for my volunteer work so that I could have the best experience possible. The Community Service Program has opened up opportunities for me in so many areas: I get to help others, work on my research project, learn about nonprofit work, practice Spanish, and experience a new culture.

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