This semester, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to intern with Alianza por la Solidaridad, a Spanish NGO (non-government organization) that focuses on human rights work in the community, mainly in the fields of environmental issues, refugees, and women’s rights. As someone who wants to go into environmental law one day and ultimately work for an NGO, this práctica seemed right up my alley. After meeting with Sandra, the wonderful volunteer and internship coordinator, I was excited, and someone nervous, to experience the Spanish workforce firsthand. Being able to work in the field that I am interested in pursuing, in a foreign language, is both a unique and somewhat intimidating concept, but one that I was grateful Tufts-Skidmore Spain offered me.
I’ve spent most of the semester doing translations for Alianza in various areas: I worked on an interview with various sources on the crisis of women’s rights (mainly, Palestinian) in Israel, and spent a few weeks working on a translation for a guide for a UN Aid Volunteers training seminar on assessing need in poor countries. While translation work isn’t the most exciting project, and can certainly prove to be a challenge, I’ve learned some really cool information about the process and goal of Alianza por la Solidaridad in the process of translating. Furthermore, I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in my Spanish since spending a few hours working in the office each week, both in my confidence in speaking and writing. My vocabulary (thank you, Word Reference) has shot through the roof.
Wednesday afternoons after my internship, this comical thing happens where I have trouble speaking both English AND Spanish. Spending three hour chunks of time in a middle ground between two languages makes you really appreciate how cool being bilingual is (not that I am, by any means, bilingual or fluent in Spanish). However, when I leave the Alianza office and head back to Monte Esquinza for class, I find my brain totally confuzzled. I’ve sent weird Spanglish texts to my host family that have prompted my host mom to respond, “¿Cómo?,” or spoken a full sentence to friends that have been a mix of English verbs and Spanish vocabulary.
Apart from being able to work in an area of interest that is relevant to my studies at Tufts (International Relations and Spanish), I’ve expanded the network of people I know in Spain into another community. For instance, a few weeks ago Alianza por la Solidaridad was sending a group of volunteers abroad to do aid work outside the borders of Spain, so they were having a lunch gathering to celebrate the send off. As I was chatting with some of the volunteers, I met a young man from Florida who was among those going to do humanitarian work. Hearing the story of how he ended up in Spain, and his plans as a volunteer was super interesting. Also, one of the other interns working at Alianza is a student from Hamilton College (Yay NESCAC schools!). Having another American-erasmus student around the office has been a really cool chance to compare our experiences working, living, and studying in Spain (and we speak to each other in Spanish, I promise!). All in all, it has been a worthwhile experience taking on an internship in Spain, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to see firsthand how an organization like Alianza por la Solidaridad is making strides to make the world better.
WORD OF THE WEEK: ONG = NGO (confusing, I know!)