Do you love to travel? How does travel add to your life? Many students and alumni take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad whether that be for study abroad, volunteering, or leisure. Yuselly Mendoza is a recent college grad, who had the opportunity to reconnect with family and volunteer within a community she can call home.
“As a graduation gift to myself, I decided to travel to Guatemala. I not only had the amazing opportunity to reconnect with extended family but also did volunteer work at the School Oficial Rural Mixta Tecun Uman Aldea Zejuyup as a bilingual teacher assistant.” – Yuselly Mendoza, Rhode Island College ’18
Where did you go and what was your trip for?
As a graduation gift to myself, I decided to travel to Guatemala. I not only had the amazing opportunity to reconnect with extended family but also did volunteer work at the School Oficial Rural Mixta Tecun Uman Aldea Zejuyup as a bilingual teacher assistant. My responsibilities included: reviewing materials in both English and Spanish with students (one-on-one and small groups) and implementing lesson plans with the teacher. I also made a strong effort to communicate with few of the students who only speak K’iche’, one of the 21 Mayan languages spoken in the native country. We engaged in conversations by creating paintings, exchange basic terms in K’iche and English (the kids were fascinated by the word pronunciations in English), and by playing tic-tac-toe during recess.
What is a highlight (favorite memory or moment) from your trip?
Favorite memory of my trip would definitely have to be sitting down with my paternal uncle and learning about my family history. One of the stories that he had shared was the night before my dad migrated to the US. “I need to know, do you think I should go?” my father asked. “Is it something that your heart truly desires?” he responds. “Yes, of course. I want to provide my family a better living. And I know I can’t make that happen here,” my dad says. “Then I say go and don’t look back,” his brother advised him. As a first-generation college student, hearing this particular piece, made me realize how important it was for me to finish college.