My name is Hillary Merwin and I am a recent graduate of Belmont University with a degree in English and Spanish. During my time in college, I discovered my passion for the Spanish language and consequently the immigrant population of Nashville. I began teaching English as a second language as a way to get to know immigrants in my community as well as to improve my Spanish. By working with the local Nashville nonprofit Conexión Américas, I was able to lead my own classes and even coordinate a language exchange program for English and Spanish speakers.
After going on a mission trip to Bogotá, Colombia in 2010, I knew I would someday return. With the support of the Lumos Award, I will be spending six months in Colombia’s capital working with a nonprofit organization called Fundación Comunidad Viva. My responsibilities will include: tutoring children in after-school programs, leading camps, teaching English, organizing community events, and most importantly just getting to know the people of my neighborhood and learning how to best meet their needs.
I could not be more excited about this incredible opportunity and I hope to return with a better understanding of a nonprofit’s role in fostering genuine community in broken neighborhoods as well as improved Spanish skills and a continued passion for Spanish-speaking people!