Sue: ISEP Service Learning in Barcelona

In volunteering for ISEP’s virtual learning service program, I was lucky enough to work with Creart, a non-profit organisation focused on utilising the therapeutic and cathartic powers of art to help improve the quality of life of marginalized groups, such as those that endured human rights violations, extreme poverty, and natural disasters, to name a few.

Creart predominantly works with children and women and aims to use art within a framework of transformative education as a tool to face past traumas and conflicts in a positive and productive manner. Additionally, Creart also hosts teaching workshops with local teachers and educators to ensure that the community as a whole is able to be benefited. Through its work, Creart’s positive influence is seen on a global scale throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. For example, with the extreme poverty present in Senegal, Creart partnered local and international organizations and worked to protect and support children living with disabilities against the prejudice and systematic disadvantage they may face. This resulted in creating a safe support center and provided resources that elevated their living conditions.

My main tasks in this program were to edit and proofread Spanish to English translated documents and ensure that it was coherent and accurate to native English speaking audience, particularly as Creart looked to expand its brand awareness globally. The translations included a master document of all the content on its website and internal documents. Additionally, my meetings with my supervisor became sessions for me to experience the transformational education while my supervisor practiced her English speaking ability.

Through this program, I was able to expand my cultural knowledge through not only learning about the Spanish culture, but also how the global society co-exists through the differences and similarities between subcultures, thus improving on my cross-cultural competences. I also gained awareness of the different communication styles that appear through cultural influences and was able to grow my understanding of my own communication style. By being aware of how communication differs across borders and cultures, it has allowed me to become more flexible in the way I interact with different people as I am able to adjust how I communicate to then produce better and more valuable interactions in the future.

Additionally, in participating in this program, I was able to experience working remotely, which I found to be very different from studying remotely. With relationships formed completely digitally, I was able to strengthen my interpersonal skills with how I can form a relationship and nurture it even in the face of technological barriers. The best part of this experience was meeting my supervisor at Creart, Maria. I really enjoyed the meetings we had where we were able to share stories of our lives in the countries that we lived in. I found it really interesting to listen to how different life is in Spain and the different experiences Maria has had travelling not only within Spain but also beyond to the numerous other countries she had been to for work and for leisure. From hearing her stories, she has inspired me to be mindful of the different ways I could weave travelling the world into my life and career.

While this program was exceptionally enjoyable, I did find managing my time challenging, particularly during the exam season. To overcome this, my advice would be to physically schedule everything out and block out different times of the day with generous leeway to avoid feeling pressured and overwhelmed by how tight time seems. Once a routine is set, it would then become more natural to delegate time to tasks and managing all the responsibilities.

University of Auckland – ISEP Study Abroad

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