My internship experience in Roatán was a rollercoaster ride zooming in slow motion. I definitely embraced its celebratory peaks, and screamed at its falls. But overall, I am happy with the experience, as I can confidently say it was a major learning experience for me.
I have been going through a chronic medical issue for months now, and it was uncertain that I could actually go abroad. I somehow pushed through, although maybe not the best decision I made, and finished the internship. It was very difficult at times, especially with the humidity and heat, but I tried my best under the circumstances.
What I enjoyed the most was seeing how a nonprofit organization functions. It was a new work environment for me, and I tried to soak it all in. It was interesting to observe the interactions between partnerships during meeting, and simply learn from the content presented. I was beyond interested in the technology that the company was utilizing for their projects and programs. I was fortunate enough to sit in and participate in a workshop that taught us how to make an app for language learning. The pace of nonprofit work isn’t as fast as I thought it would be, or even how I would ideally like it to be. I do have to admit that sometimes it did bother me how slow the process was, but I can understand why and tried to swim with the current, since I was an outsider to this workplace.
Another of my favorite parts of my experience was being able to dabble with different softwares for measurement tools, like learning how to use Survey To Go, Remark, and PowerBI. These skills will carry throughout many jobs and disciplines, and now I can say I have some experience in using them. It was rewarding to create the assessment tool, input it in the software, and let it come to life when administering the assessments. It was even a greater success when schools opened up again and we were able to collect so much data! I am a computer geek, and when we started to use PowerBI to create distinct and attractive graphs and chats, I was in awe. It’s a shame PowerBI isn’t compatible with macOS or else I would have been playing with data on my free time. I would not have been able to learn all of these skills if it wasn’t for a magnificent data analyst who guided us through every system. So, muchisimas gracias Munir.
I learned to be a lot more patient, especially for myself and my body. We didn’t have a lot of supervision while on the island. We were given assignments and tasks and left independent to complete them. I enjoyed that, actually. It was convenient for me to work at my own pace, when appropriate. I know it’s not always going to be the case, but the independence we had worked in my favor. However, there were times where it took longer to get feedback or responses to my questions. My patience was also put to test when communicating with the ministry, administration, and teachers. I had to remember that we weren’t their number one thing on their list. They had so many other things to think about, especially with the protests and political climate. Yet, we persisted through and luckily we were able to talk and observe many teachers and classrooms, respectively.
Once in the classrooms and with teachers, I felt so content because I was actually able to see the program in action. Yet, that happiness wore off sometimes when I realized that there were many gaps to patch up, but that I was only temporary and couldn’t help them with their needs beyond the two months and tasks I was set to do. This experience gave me a glimpse of what a real work experience could be like. I definitely enjoyed the connection I had with the locals and could have learned a lot more from them if we both had the time. The administrative work we had to do balanced out with the field work, at times, which all came together in the end. I also found myself questioning how deep to get involved in this project. I was getting too attached, and now looking back at my feelings and reactions, I think that maybe I was too biased with my opinions about the program. I never really gave it a true chance to see it’s positives, because I was too busy with my own perception of how language should be taught. I remembered that many times, we only see what we want to see because we have this tunnel vision of what we think is right, good, bad, etc. Who knows if the program is and will actually be beneficial to every student, but I can now reflect that it might just have helped a few and that’s a good step towards improvement – I hope.
Lastly, as I was flying back home, I reflected on how I was proud of myself for accomplishing this experience, and improving my academic Spanish. Of course, there were multiple days where I got up and had zero energy to continue and/or wasn’t motivated to do work, but the people in Roatán made it special and worth it for me. Gracias to everyone who helped me out – from taxi drivers to busboys. Gracias to every teacher, administrator, and the Governor for working with us and helping us get the information needed. There is so much that I gained from this internship and will take with me to whatever milestone comes next. Hasta luego Roatán.