Civic Engagement Scholars receive a stipend to complete a nonprofit internship of their choice during their junior year. Clair Carter ’12 was accepted into the University of Dreams internship program in Barcelona and was hired at a small nonprofit for eight weeks called Manos Unidas in 2010. Here are just two of her amazing stories about her work and travels. To read more, including what it was like to be in Spain when the Spanish team won the World Cup, please check out her blog at: http://huntercarter.com/hosted/claircarter/clain/
By Clair Carter ’12
Applying for an international internship is a gamble. Aside from the uncertainty of receiving the position, there is no guarantee that one´s workplace will be enjoyable. It was apparent on Wednesday when all of the students in the program reconvened for dinner after the first day of work that we were not all winners.
Some students were greeted with intricate ceremonies involving smearing tomatoes and oil and, of course, kissing more strangers than one cares to remember. Other students failed to comprehend their Spanish instructions and attempted to look as important and busy as possible while actually surfing Facebook for hours. One girl discovered that she was the star in a real life version of ¨The Devil Wears Prada¨when upon entering the office, she was bombarded with a list of tasks and no directions (or kisses for that matter). How does one obtain 50 clear umbrellas anyway?
But I feel like the Goldilocks of the group. Although finding my office was difficult, acclimating to it has been anything but. I spent the first three days just learning my place here. I work for Manos Unidas, that´s Mans Unides in Catalan and United Hands in English. This non-profit NGO (non-governmental organization) is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Started by catholic women in the interest of women, Manos Unidas has expanded to help families and communities all over the world. They are devoted to ending hunger, improving health, sanitation, and education, promoting the rights of women–to sum it all up, world peace.
The discussions here flow smoothly from universal health care to burkas to diets to futbol to Avatar. For now, I am mostly a spectator. I understand what is being said over coffee, but my tongue and my brain have yet to synchronize. From time to time, I interject and everyone waits patiently as I search for words and proper conjugations, but mostly I just laugh at the way everyone teaches each other.
I feel as if by some bizarre turn of fate, I have ended up here just as I found myself at Oglethorpe. I did not realize how much I would connect with the purpose or the people of either of these two small places.
To my dad and mom(s) and friends and boyfriend and grandmas everywhere, just go ahead and take a deep breath. This last weekend I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in what is quite possibly the most famous Spanish tradition.