Did you intern abroad?!
Allison: I interned abroad with a non-profit organization focused on education and poverty alleviation in Guatemala in 2009. During my time there I primarily worked as a classroom assistant providing homework help to students whose families made a living by scavenging recyclables from the Guatemala City garbage dump.
I found the organization by searching online for volunteering opportunities in Latin America and promptly wrote a grant proposal based on the idea of spending a couple of months there. I won the grant, which was through my undergraduate institution's deans' office, to pursue a project in children's education which then financed my internship.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Allison: Language learning and cultural immersion is so important because it allows you to understand the world around you. Once you have learned a second (or third! or fourth!) language and spent a significant period of time living in a culture different than your own you can see how culture impacts the decisions of its citizens, politics, economy and more. I am particularly passionate about these things because we live in an increasingly global world and to know and understand different cultures and languages is our future. The more prepared you are for this global transition the better!
What does the future hold for UWC Costa Rica - any exciting new programs to share?
Allison: UWC Costa Rica's primary focus is our two-year pre-university program for students from around 65 different countries. This is to say that we are not dedicated tour operators but rather an educational institution that wants to make itself more visible to a wider audience through meaningful interactions with our students, staff and campus. With this in mind we have developed our short course on social entrepreneurship, a variety of workshops and a local camp program.
It's been exciting not only watching these programs develop but also to see the interest from local and international partners increase.
In the future I hope to develop a training institute on the UWC campus which would offer our workshops to both local and international students, educators and professionals. The workshops would center on our competencies program (social responsibility, leadership, conflict transformation, etc) and help build practical skills in participants.
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Allison: The travel experience that changed my life was a trip to Brazil when I was 15 with one of my best friends from high school, Anna. It was my first time to Latin America and I was in love. I was excited by the food, culture, rhythm of lifestyle - pretty much everything. It was then that I began to explore this region of the world more, even going on to study in Argentina and intern in Guatemala. Anna will be quick to tell you that if not for that trip to Brazil there is no way I'd be living in Costa Rica!