In the summer of 2014, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina with the Spanish Department. Living with a host family and attending a local language school, my affinity for foreign language grew as I was exposed to a new cultural experience and dialect. On that trip, I felt assured I had chosen the correct field of study as I was secured in my passion— to meet people where they are and help improve their quality of life.
In Nashville, I seek opportunities to practice my passion, to develop my skills. Teaching English as a Second Language with Conexión Américas in Fall 2014 was an amazing experience, as I walked through the language and cultural adjustment immigrants have upon relocating to the U.S. In continued volunteerism with CA, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Justice for Our Neighbors, I participate in legal clinics through translation and advocating, assisting with the integration process. The stories I have heard from immigrants help me understand the need for increased opportunity among the immigrant populations and the countries within the central American region.
At Belmont, I study Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship. The Spanish department has aided my growth in language capabilities, both communication and translation, with service learning activities within the community. In General Business Spanish, I reaffirmed business skills utilizing Spanish vocabulary, a kind addition to this project as I work in a Spanish speaking community to develop the business elements for social enterprise. In the Social Entrepreneurship department, I study the Global Social track to grow my understanding of both foreign and domestic applications of business to achieve economic prosperity for disenfranchised groups. Classes like Intercultural Communications, International Political Economy and International Entrepreneurship brought me face to face with the cultural, political and legal frameworks which surround business in other countries. In choosing the Latin American region for my schoolwork, I have equipped myself for business endeavors in Spanish speaking countries. The last four years have given me tools, now sharpened for use in this project with Mission Lazarus.
My top strengths, as reported by StrengthsFinder, include 3 most applicable to this project: Belief, Restorative and Adaptability. As my number 1, Belief represents my strong core values which guide decisions and actions. In my life, my relationship with God takes precedence. It is a daily commitment to honor with my actions the Father who loves me gracefully and mercifully. This belief system has guided my path towards a project of this nature, not to evangelize to others, but to show the grace and love of Christ by action, in teaching others how to create prosperity for themselves through enterprise models. My Restorative strength reflects my thought process; my mind loves ethical efficiency, looking at the way something currently operates and searching for strategies for improvement. The Restorative quality realizes the potential of greatness in something and seeks to improve it, captured wholly in the purpose of my trip. Working with Mission Lazarus’s social enterprise has shown me the potential for the organization, revealing weak points which I aim to resolve, to grow impact. My third strength in Adaptability epitomizes efficiency coupled with flexibility. I am able to reassess situations and shift gears in order to get the best results. This adaptability is important when working in a foreign setting, helping me to adapt culturally to different business dynamics and operations while maintaining the vision of the project and intention of the organization.
After returning from the project, I will continue working in the social enterprise sector. Ideally, I would like to continue working with Mission Lazarus on the U.S. side of operations to grow our client base and marketing strategies, under the premise that the supply connection is more established to suit domestic sales. Participating in this project would benefit my contributions to social enterprise organizations, as I will have experienced all aspects of the product cycle, allowing analysis at each level and its social impact on people and communities.
Separately, I plan to work for 2-3 years before attending law school to study immigration law. My intention is to assist Latin American Immigrants in their process of immigration. This trip experience will widen my cultural exposure, soften my heart to the conditions which prompt relocation and immigration, and grant me a better relatability to the clients I will serve. A trip like this is multifaceted, providing many opportunities for self-growth and future application as I work towards my goal of improving the quality of life for others.