Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
- My STEP Signature Project was held in Ecuador. In my group, we participated in tourist like activities, such as hiking and visiting the Inca Pirca ruins. Additionally, we traveled up into the Cañari Nation into the Quilloac Community to work in a bi-lingual school. We taught grades 1-5 English, and in return, they taught us their indigenous language of Kichwa.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
- My most intense transformation that took place would be my fluidity of speaking the Spanish language. My host parents, Luis and Patricia, spoke no English, and thus the only way to communicate with them was through Spanish. This was a definite challenge. I am in no way fluent, but I have been studying for about 1o years in school. Due to the fact that there was no option to sink back into the comfortability of speaking English, my Spanish speaking skills transformed. I was able to flow more with my words and think on my toes during a conversation. Before this trip, I was unsure of my Spanish speaking skills, however, I surprised myself with how strongly I could communicate and understand.
- Inside of the Spanish-speaking transformation that I underwent, I also found myself viewing Ecuador through the lens of the richness of their nature. Never in my life have I seen such beautiful landscapes. Every day I had the privilege of passing by incredible mountains and open fields and clouds that hung low to the earth. I feel a new found appreciation for all that mother nature has to offer other countries, and how lucky I am to have been able to see all of the beauty and take back this appreciation to my hometown.
3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
- As previously mentioned, my host parents and their family, spoke no English. Thus, every day and night when we would converse with them, especially during dinner times, was a time to undergo change inside me. Dinner was held at about 7 pm and lasted for about and hour and a half. During this time we spoke to our parents about our days, and they would include stories of past college students who had visited their home. Therefore, it was imperative that I listened attentively in order to respond and in order to be respectful of our conversation. Dinner time was the ultimate time to transform my Spanish speaking and comprehension abilities.
- Similarly, at the school in Quilloac, I had to communicate with the fluent Spanish speaking students. Although they were young, about nine years old, their Spanish-speaking was far beyond mine. However, because I had been in Ecuador for a little longer than a week, and had been communicating in Spanish with my host parents, I felt pretty comfortable with the students. The week with the students allowed me to further enhance my skills. Young students are very inquisitive, and thus they ask a lot of questions and talk a speed that is comfortable to them (very quickly), so I had to answer and help my fellow OSU students answer the students with as clear Spanish as possible. Teaching them another language also required that I needed to communicate as perfectly as possible so that the students understood what I was teaching. This was the ultimate transformational event.
- Additionally, whilst traveling up to the school in Quilloac, we literally drove through a mountain side that had been carved out by man. Each day I felt more accustomed to the natural sites I was seeing, and I became upset by it, I was getting used to the beauty, taking advantage of it. In the beginning of the trip, I chose to be mindful of my surroundings, and not just for safety, but to appreciate the new land I was inhabiting. Seeing how families live in such rural and mountainous communities was a transformational experience for me to understand and see a new way of life and natural wonder.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
- Both of these transformations are significant for me in my life because it was something I had never believed I could do or believed would be something I would partake in. For example, Spanish is a very prevalent language in the United States. Having a better understanding and speaking ability can be quite helpful for getting a job, or just communicating with locals in my community. Similarly, taking an appreciation for other countries landscape. I can bring that appreciation into my own hometown, and not take advantage of let’s say the parks, my back yard, or the trees on the Oval at OSU. I am grateful for my experience in Ecuador and all that it gave me and what I can bring back into my life.