Fifty years from now, when you are (hopefully) peacefully retired in the place of your dreams, reflecting on your past experiences, your education, your work, your family, the friends you have made and the friends you have lost, the places you have visited and the places you will never see, what do you think will come to mind?
In my mind I will picture Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain in the summer of 2014 and the blessing of my colleges's International Studies summer fellowship. I will picture my internship at an organization that actively fought to eradicate the housing and economic crisis that began in 2007. A crisis which, in Spain, resulted in the forceful eviction of thousands from their homes, left thousands more indebted to the banks for life, and even led some to take their own lives. I will picture myself, a 22-year-old university student from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee who at first struggled with language and communication, constantly stressing over research, work and cultural awareness, but who quickly adapted to an intimate work environment, becoming truly comfortable with immersion, and able to have the opportunity to contribute personal, meaningful, and useful work to the fight for housing rights in Spain. All this, still being able to have an unexplainable amount of fun and adventure within the city of Barcelona, around Spain, and throughout North Africa and Central Europe.
Lea and Steve Levy, and the rest of the team at Connect-123, gave me the tools I needed to make my experience in Barcelona not only a memory I could happily look back on 50 years from now, but also a contribution to the city that will forever have an impact on the livelihood of its citizens. Without the help of Connect-123, I would have never been able to be placed at an organization that fit my exact interests and aspirations for a summer internship abroad, particularly in the field of protecting constitutional and basic human rights. To anyone who hopes to look back on their time abroad with a sense of accomplishment, personal growth, and unmatchable happiness, Connect-123 is the way to go. 11 out of 10.