Caminos

What You Will Gain as a Caminos Intern

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Sarah Allen

When I first traveled to the Dominican Republic as an English teacher for underserved students with Outreach360 in 2012, I learned a principle by which the organization lives: Serve; Don’t Help. Volunteers often go to developing countries with the mindset of helping the helpless. But since that first trip, I have returned four more times to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and I now realize that development work is not one-sided. Empowering societies through cooperation, support, and mutual exchange is crucial to lasting development. Service is a two-way relationship that involves mutual communication, respect, and learning.

As a Caminos Intern with Outreach360, for everything that you give to the students and the community, you will gain even more. Personally, I owe the entire path of my life to that first week I volunteered at Outreach360: my interest in Latin American culture, my commitment to teaching and learning languages, my devotion to education, my passion for service, and my decision to pursue a career in international humanitarian work. If you are even half as lucky as me, you will gain so much from your time as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360: you will learn from like-minded peers, gain critical leadership skills, form meaningful relationships with students, soak up a new culture, open doors for your future, and even pick up some Spanish along the way.

Every returned Outreach360 volunteer will probably tell you that working with the students was the highlight of their experience. For me, it was no different. But working with the students was also by far the most challenging aspect of volunteering for me. During my first trip to the Dominican Republic, I spent every single day of the week teaching color words to a group of about eight kindergarten-aged students who had had very minimal exposure to English. Each day, it seemed like the students had completely lost all of the progress they had made the day before. Because of the total immersion approach that Outreach360 takes to teaching English, I felt like it was difficult to communicate and connect with such basic level students.

As the end of the week approached, I worried that our team had not accomplished the main goal that we had set for ourselves: facilitating mastery of eight basic color words. Feeling hopeless on the last day, our team gave the students coloring pages and crayons in a half-hearted attempt to do an activity that was relevant to the theme but still simple enough that we couldn’t fail.

To our surprise, as the students colored, we began to hear them ask each other for the crayons that they wanted. “Blue, please,” I heard from one student as he looked towards another student’s pile of crayons. “Red,” another student called as she gestured towards a crayon just out of reach in the center of the table. For the rest of the day, we encouraged students to ask their peers and teachers for the crayons they wanted for their coloring pages to practice their color words. Unlike we had thought all along, the students were making incremental progress all week, poco a poco. Despite my initial frustration of slow progress, I know that each successive week that Outreach360’s dedicated teachers have worked with those students, they have built upon what I taught that week.

At the end of the last day, every single one of my students ran up and gave me a huge hug, and that is what has kept me and hundreds of other volunteers returning year after year to continue to see them grow. Despite the language barrier I perceived, I was able to form a real connection with my students that I strengthen with each visit.

I have loved learning from Outreach360’s joyful and loving students, but the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships with fellow volunteers and staff has also been a hallmark of my experience as a volunteer. Outreach360 attracts all of the coolest world travelers, adventurers, and do-gooders. Through interactions with like-minded people from near and far, you will not only bond over your similarities, but you will gain new perspectives and a multicultural outlook from your differences.

Throughout your time in Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic, you will certainly encounter cultural differences you are unaccustomed to. But Outreach360 will be there to support you every step of the way and help you conquer any challenges you may face. By the time you return home, you will miss the gallo pinto you ate every day, the daily rounds of La Prensas loudspeaker, and even the bunk beds and mosquito nets.

All that you gain from your time as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360 will be invaluable within the context of any career or life path you may choose to pursue. I know I will carry the knowledge and experiences I have acquired in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic with me through the rest of my life.

Not only that, but you will also open doors for your students that will allow them to contribute to the healing of their communities. Like I said, the “Serve; Don’t Help” principle has stuck with me and served me as a guiding principle since my first trip to Latin America. I hope that you choose to spend a few months of your time as a Caminos Intern because I guarantee that your time with Outreach360 will stick with you too.

For more information about the Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internships, visit this website: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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How Interning Abroad Helped Me Discover My Purpose

 Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer:  Annika Hudson
From 2013-2014 I volunteered with Outreach360 for about eight months as a Caminos Volunteer. The experiences and individuals I came across while in the Dominican Republic have left lasting impressions on me. While it has been awhile since I volunteered, I continue to keep in touch with my friends and fellow Caminos volunteers. We became family during our time overseas.
A specific memory I have from the Dominican Republic was the blue class. I taught the blue class in the afternoon at the Learning Center. These students ranged from ages eight to ten years old. This class brought me so much joy. If I was having a rough day, I always knew that the blue class would provide me with lots of laughs and love. They supported one another and valued their education.

While each of these students continuously came to class with smiles on their faces, each of them came from dysfunctional home lives. However, when at the Learning Center, they could relax and forget about their worries. We used to always say “BOOMSHAKALAKA!” when it was time to focus and get started with the lesson. We constantly smiled, accepted, and embraced one another. They were probably my hardest goodbye when it was time to go home. I never thought that I could have such an impact on the students I worked with; and more surprisingly, I did not think they would leave such an impression on me. I still think about that class and hope all is well with them.

I volunteered with Outreach360 because my freshman year of college left me feeling very uncertain about my abilities and what I wanted to do with my life. Deciding to take a gap-year took a lot of thought but in the end, I needed time to discover myself and my passions. Thankfully, my time in the Dominican Republic gave me just this and the confidence to apply to a university that I never thought I could get into. The year following this experience, I transferred to the University of Pittsburgh. It was the perfect fit and I had many successes at this school.

Furthermore, I am now in graduate school, at Gwynedd Mercy University, to become a School Counselor K-12. My time in the Dominican Republic allowed me to begin to realize what profession I wanted to get involved in. Overall, after completing my time with Outreach360 I felt like I could conquer the world and nothing could get in my way. I continue to feel this way today. If you are someone who feels lost, or wants to take a gap year, or just wants to have a life-changing experience, it would be in your best interest to take a chance and be an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer. I promise you won’t regret it!

For more information about the Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internship, click this link: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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Lessons Learned As An Outreach360 Intern

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Guest Writer: Lucy McGraw

I spent the summer of 2015 in Nicaragua as a Caminos volunteer with Outreach360. It was an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience for me, as it opened my eyes to so much about the world, myself and the amazing, intelligent students I served. As a Caminos, I had the privilege of spending quality time with the students and collaborating with volunteers from around the globe. We had a dance party with the students for International Children’s Day, spent a day exploring the historic city of Granada, and ended the summer by taking the students on a field trip to Managua to see the airport. I formed meaningful relationships with the students as I taught them about the Highland Games in Scotland, or what it means for an airplane to hit turbulence. I cultivated lifelong friendships with some of the other long-term volunteers, who I now don’t go more than a few days without talking to.

The greatest lessons I learned came from the ten principles that Outreach360 teaches volunteers at the beginning of the week to ensure that they have a meaningful and fulfilling experience. There are three that I make a point to carry with me each day.

Serve, Don’t Help.

This reminds volunteers that the students are not helpless children who need us to impose our values and customs on them to improve their lives — rather they are smart, talented, curious little people who are eager to learn from the volunteers they interact with. It hopes to show volunteers that our purpose is to serve them, to be a stepping stone for them on their life path. It also serves as a reminder to be respectful of the community that the volunteers spend their time in and to try their best to become as familiar with it as possible. 

This principle means a lot to me, because I now work as an AmeriCorps member for a nonprofit called Literacy First, teaching literacy to young, low-income students from difficult backgrounds. The elementary school I work in is Title I, meaning it does not always have the funds or the resources to support the students as is necessary. Whenever I find myself wanting to overstep my boundaries or get involved in a situation that can be solved without me, this principle pops into my head, and I am reminded that I can only serve as much as I am needed. Once I take a step back, I am reminded that the work I am doing is purposeful and that the students’ drive, curiosity and eagerness to learn will support them in the ways that the school cannot.

Communicate Love.

This principle, I think, speaks for itself. It was demonstrated to me throughout my internship by the students we served and through the friendships I formed with other volunteers. The students showed me love by the way they fully embraced me and the new volunteers that came in each week, and how excited they were to participate in whatever lesson we had planned for them, no matter what it was.

The other volunteers communicated love to me by accepting me for who I am, acknowledging how our differences made us a stronger team, and by embracing the students right back. Outreach360 encourages praise in the form of notes written by volunteers who deserve it. I still have each note that I received from other volunteers that summer. One of my favorites is from a fellow long-term volunteer, Virginia Gordon, who is now one of my best friends. It reads, “I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you; you made this trip so much better. I really kind of hate writing notes, but I write this to say that I love you and can’t wait to travel the world”. This principle means a lot to me because it serves as a great reminder that the best way to communicate love is to love yourself and let that love overflow onto the people around you.

This Is It.

This is the principle that resonated with me the most. It serves as a reminder that we need to be present and live in the moment because this is it; life is happening now. The people in Jinotega embody this principle in such a great way. No one is in a hurry, no one is rushing to the next place or the next thing, everyone is content just to be. People drop in on their friends unexpectedly to have a cup of coffee or to chat. They stop on the street to say hello to their neighbor that they haven’t seen in a couple of days. In Western culture, it’s easy to sometimes get caught up in the rush and to feel like you have to have a plan for the day, the week, the next 5 years. Being immersed in the laid back Nicaraguan culture was the perfect reset button for me, and showed me that everything doesn’t have to be figured out and that I can take things day by day. I now try to live by this principle and try to remind myself that life is short and that I need to take advantage of the present.

My experience as a Caminos changed my life. I cherish the memories, relationships and life lessons that I gained while there. To quote my good friend Jessica Henderson, also a former Caminos intern, “I urge anyone that stumbles upon this blog to not hesitate on an experience like this. It doesn’t matter your credentials or your abilities, all you need is a heart and room to let it grow. Jinotega is a home to me now. Come see why.”

 

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My Internship Empowered Me To Travel

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Dallon Asnes

My name is Dallon Asnes. I’m a senior physics major at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. In the summer of 2015, following my first year of college, I spent eight weeks in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic as a Caminos Intern with Outreach360.

Living for a summer in Monte Cristi was an incredible experience. It was my first time out of the U.S., my first time without the luxurious amenities to which I had previously grown accustomed, and my first time being immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment.

I had studied Spanish throughout high school but, once I got to Monte Cristi, my Spanish improved by leaps and bounds. I helped plan and direct the baseball-softball camp that summer, which meant most of my days were spent on a baseball field – which I loved – and I often had long, spontaneous conversations in Spanish with campers who all shared a similar passion for sports. Campers shared some of their favorite music with me and I’ll never forget our group sing-a-longs to Daddy Yankee or Prince Royce after a long day on the field. I was continually impressed with how well the campers could dance. Although I loved the bachata and merengue classes we had at the program center every week, I don’t think I ever learned to dance as well as them!

I often think back to hiking El Morro with our group and photographing the gorgeous beach right below us, or laughing along with the workers at the Salt Flat as I translated for our group tours. Living in Monte Cristi wasn’t all easy, however. Between mosquito bites, heat and the initial adjustment of being out of one’s comfort zone, there were times that challenged me. However, the Outreach360 staff remained open, accessible, and incredibly supportive whenever a situation arose. Many of my fond memories come from the strong sense of community those of us working with Outreach360 felt.

When I returned to college the next fall, I was craving another opportunity to live abroad. I decided to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and the Boren Scholarship, programs that would fund either a summer or full year abroad with an intensive language study component. When I met with fellowship advisors at my school to begin discussing my application, it dawned on me how significantly my experience with Outreach360 would strengthen my applications. I had lived for an extended period in modest conditions, I had demonstrated that I could adjust to new cultures and communities and I did so while leading our summer program and other volunteers.

These experiences from Monte Cristi helped me stand out in application essays and prove myself in subsequent interviews. One of the more challenging interview questions I faced was, “What will you do while living abroad to decompress or relax?” In Monte Cristi, I frequently journaled and regularly made time to read in a quiet space. Referencing this in my response helped show what I’ve learned from this past experience and how I’m ready to apply it to future ones. Furthermore, I should mention that the staff from Outreach360 wrote me great letters of recommendation to bolster my applications.

Thanks to some of these scholarships, I’ve since had the opportunity to study in India for ten months and volunteer in Madagascar for three. While my experiences with Outreach360 helped me to earn these scholarships in the first place, lessons I learned in Monte Cristi taught me how to manage what can be difficult cultural adjustments and gave me the confidence to push through new challenges.

While I was in Monte Cristi, every day was filled with exciting, new experiences. When I think back to the summer, in addition to these fond memories, I can’t help but appreciate the influence of Outreach360 and the opportunity that a Caminos Internship proved in propelling me toward more diverse, international experiences. I encourage you to be involved in whatever capacity you can!

Register to become an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern here: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/ 

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Caminos Volunteers Provide Sustainable Service

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Katie Sullivan

My name is Katie Sullivan and I served as a long-term volunteer for Outreach360 in Nicaragua in 2014. I hope that by sharing about my time there it will encourage some of you to go and experience the magic for yourselves!

I have spent a total of seven weeks in Nicaragua with Outreach360.  I took three week-long trips in 2013, 2014, and 2015 while a student at the College of William & Mary, as well as spent a month there as an individual volunteer in 2014.  There was something really special about the experience that kept me coming back for more.

By now you may have realized all of the wonderful things that you personally could get out of a volunteer tripthere are a lot!  They include a chance to experience a new country and culture, testing yourself outside of your comfort zone, and practicing your Spanish!  This is only the start of it.  You will also find yourself meeting inspiring people, eating delicious foodsI’m looking at you, plantainsand learning new things about yourself.  I could go on.

So yes, volunteering with Outreach360 will change your life and be one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences you ever have.  But if you’re like me and many of the other young people I traveled with as a college student, you may have another question: will the work I do really make a difference?

The international volunteer is a smart and thoughtful person.  You want to make sure that your time and money is going to an organization that is having a real and positive impact in the communities in which it works.  I’m here to tell you that yes, Outreach360 is doing great things.  How do I know?

1. Education is the key to empowerment.

When communities are educated, they are uplifted in a sustainable way.  Educated children go on to get higher-paying jobs and then give their money and skills back to their community as adults.  By using education as their means of serving, Outreach360 is creating a generation that will change their situation for themselves.

2. Every volunteer makes a difference.

I think a lot of people are discouraged from a service trip because they think they cannot have any impact in a short amount of time.  One of Outreach360’s ten principles is about just this: “Poco a poco [little by little]”.  You may not change the world or even one child’s life while you’re there, but your work combined with that of the volunteers who came before you and will come after you are the total package.  Don’t get discouraged; it takes real people committing and going to make this difference!  If you serve as a long-term or Caminos volunteer, you’re more likely than ever to see real change over time.

One week I worked closely with a student named Marlon, who needed extra attention in English at the time (there we are above).  Marlon was struggling to learn new vocabulary words and there was a test coming up, so I worked with him constantly.  Like I said, he didn’t become fluent in a week but seeing the progress that one student could make with a little one-on-one time lifted my spirits and gave me a lot of confidence.  The more volunteers, the more one-on-one time the kids get.  This is why we need YOU!

3. You don’t have to be a professional English teacher to volunteer.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it really is enough that you speak English and just want to work hard.  Especially when working with children, immersion is the most effective way of teaching a foreign language.  Studies show that children have brains like a sponge when it comes to acquiring language, so the quickest path to fluency for them is to hear a language all the time.  As a result, just by speaking English with your students you are teaching them.  Staff members will make sure that you are following their curriculum and that your lesson plans are up to snuff.  That said, professional teachers are more than welcome and always contribute immensely as volunteers!

4. Learning English will change lives in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

It opens doors to lucrative industries like tourism.  The future employment possibilities for Outreach360 students are greatly expanded by their English skills.  So they’ll get those higher-paying jobs one day and have new opportunities as a result.  Your students could even become foreign diplomats one day!  Dream big!

5. Outreach360 has a great relationship with local communities.

It was important to me when I first arrived in Nicaragua to see that Outreach360 employs a number of locals.  This inclusion of voices from the community ensures that the organization is working toward goals that are really wanted in the area.   I have seen that as Outreach360 expands in Nicaragua, so too does the number of locals they involve in their projects.  Additionally, staff members have regular contact with the parents of their students, giving them a voice in their children’s education.

So, if you’ve been on the fence about volunteering internationally, I’m telling you that Outreach360 is the place for you.  Take this opportunity to be a long-term or Caminos volunteer and help be the change!

Register to become an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern here: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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Outreach360 Offers Internship Opportunities Abroad

In Spanish, Camino means path or road, and in the Outreach360 Caminos Internship Program, volunteers play a crucial role in providing a path out of poverty for underserved children in Latin America. Caminos volunteers will be working in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua for eight weeks or more to provide powerful and meaningful education programs that pave the way to a new way of life for the children we serve; a life with options; a life of choice. And, as you journey with Outreach360 in empowering children to transform their lives, you’ll discover that they have transformed yours.

Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Interns are service-minded individuals with a variety of backgrounds and interests. As a Caminos Volunteer, you will serve with an emphasis of your choosing in education, communication, marketing, and leadership that will enhance your training and development. Interns will lead the 2018 Summer Dare to Dream camps and will teach classes on STEM, performing and fine arts, journalism and communications, environment and sustainability, and business.

Education in these subjects provides Outreach360 students with ample amounts of opportunities in their future careers. Your participation in the 2018 Summer Dare to Dream camps will empower students to continue their education, thus further leading them on a path to live a life of choice.

But wait. That’s not all.

Here are 6 things you will gain by becoming an Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern:

Knowledge About Sustainable Development

Outreach360 believes education is the best sustainable solution to combat poverty in Latin America and provide the children we serve with long-term opportunities to transform their own lives; however, we recognize that is more easily said than done. In order to ensure that our organization is sustainable in the communities we serve in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, we take measured steps towards educating groups of students who might one day take on our program, allowing us to pass on our teacher torches. Poco a poco. Caminos Volunteer Interns will take part in this journey towards sustainable development.

 Experience Personal Growth

The Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internship will empower your personal growth. Bella Winston, a former Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern, said, “My Caminos Volunteer experience was the most amazing two months of my life. I absolutely loved living in Jinotega, working with the kids, and spending time with other members of the Outreach360 community. This program has inspired me to work hard for the benefit of others and not only myself, appreciate and love the life I have been given, and appreciate the little moments rather than only focusing on big goals.” Your experience volunteering abroad with Outreach360 will transform you in a positive way. You’ll take away powerful, life lessons that you will carry with you for a lifetime.

 Develop Global Awareness

Exposing yourself to service abroad as a Caminos Intern will initiate you into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, you will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Service will take on a new meaning and open doors for new beginnings. The Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Program will inspire you to continue learning about issues around the world, and become a powerful advocate for action and change

 Strengthen Your Leadership Skills

Volunteering abroad for a long period of time is a true test of character, but Outreach360 Caminos Interns rise to the challenge. “The Caminos Program was amazing; it is the best way to spend the summer. Even more so, it was helpful because I developed new leadership qualities in myself. Leading adults who are older than you; kids who are tinier than you; it all really builds your character,” Ollie Smith, a former Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern, explained. Your volunteering experience in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua will develop your leadership skills. 

 Experience Culture Through Cultural Interactions

Outreach360 works to create an immersive experience that Caminos Volunteers will remember for a lifetime.  The Caminos Volunteer Program will expand your cultural and global knowledge. Although you will become an Outreach360 teacher for eight weeks or more, you will also be learning about the unique cultures of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in an immersive setting. Outreach360 Caminos Volunteers gain cultural insights through our volunteer programming, which includes informational documentaries, interactive discussions about Latin American culture from Outreach360 mentors, and cultural excursions.

 Make a Difference in the Lives of Underserved Students

The countries in which Outreach360 serves are beautiful; however, it is of the utmost importance to Outreach360 that volunteers understand that their time abroad is used to serve. In order to create a sustainable program in which students can grow up to live a life of choice, Caminos Volunteer Interns participate in direct service, not voluntourism. The impact that Outreach360 volunteers leave on students will pave the way for more knowledge and growth in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Your decision to volunteer abroad will pave the way for underserved children to accomplish their dreams.

Discover more about the Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Internship here: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/

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Journalism/Communication Majors Welcome!

Outreach360 students are interested in exploring career opportunities in communication and journalism fields. Volunteering abroad in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic will not only open doors for children interested in these subjects, but it will also open doors for Communications and Journalism majors by expanding their knowledge of their focus subject on a global scale. Outreach360 invites Communication and Journalism majors to serve abroad and teach communication and journalism classes to underserved children in Latin America at the 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp.

The 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp program will be led by Outreach360 short-term volunteers and Caminos Volunteer interns. Caminos Volunteers teach abroad for 8 or 12 weeks in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua Learning Center programs, whereas short-term volunteers serve for lengths of 1 to 7 weeks. This is the second summer that Outreach360’s Dare to Dream Summer Camp program will hold classes focused on communications and journalism.

Graham Hunt, an Outreach360 Communications OLÉ with an emphasis in photography and videography, says, “I think that multilingual education has a lot to do with global citizenship, and I think that global citizenship and journalism go hand-in-hand.  As the world grows more connected, we are more and more responsible for one another; our actions have ripple effects far beyond our local communities.  As such, as members of this increasingly interdependent global community, we have a deep responsibility to inform ourselves about what’s going on in the world.”

This opportunity is perfect for college students interested in making a global difference while sharing their passion for communication and journalism. College students will have the unique opportunity to teach abroad as a Caminos Volunteer or a short-term volunteer. Caminos Volunteers and short-term volunteers will be working in the community to provide powerful and meaningful communication and journalism educational programs that pave the way to a new life for the children we serve.

Graham goes on to say, “I think it’s important that young people everywhere learn about news and newsmaking.  I think it’s crucial that the new generation gain an understanding of the importance of journalism in the public debate, and more important still that they grow up with the critical thinking skills to evaluate and interpret the information with which they are presented.  And I think that as teachers educating a new generation of global citizens, Outreach360 volunteers with a background in journalism represent a great asset, a resource our students can tap as they grow into informed and critical global citizens.”

Teaching abroad can open doors for college students. Being exposed to service abroad will initiate you into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, you will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Furthermore,  volunteering as a Caminos Volunteer or a short-term volunteer will encourage you to continue learning about issues around the world, and become powerful advocates for action and change.

Volunteers will be teaching students about communication and journalism practices and how they can be applied within the international community. This exchange of knowledge will empower your personal growth of knowledge in communication and journalism fields by requiring you to think outside the box in order to teach in a sustainable way. What may be practiced in the United States or Canada, may not be practiced in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Discovering these differences will further your growth as a communications and journalism professional. Most importantly, it will motivate students to pursue careers in communications and journalism.
For more information about how you can get involved with Outreach360, visit this website: www.outreach360.org
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Volunteer Opportunities for STEM Majors

Service STEMs from dedicated volunteers with a variety of backgrounds and interests. Outreach360 students are curious to explore subjects in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM fields offer a variety of career options for people living in Latin America. In order to meet the needs and interests of our students, Outreach360 wants to invite STEM majors to serve in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua to lead classes during the 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp program.

The 2018 Dare to Dream Summer Camp program will be led by Outreach360 short-term volunteers and Caminos Volunteer interns. Caminos Volunteers teach abroad for 8 or 12 weeks in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua Learning Center programs, whereas short-term volunteers serve for lengths of 1 to 7 weeks. This is the second summer that Outreach360’s Dare to Dream Summer Camp program will hold classes focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

What will you gain from this experience? The chance to share your passion abroad!

This opportunity is perfect for college students interested in making a global difference while sharing their passion for STEM subjects. College students will have the unique opportunity to teach abroad as a Caminos Volunteer or a short-term volunteer. Caminos Volunteers and short-term volunteers will be working in the community to provide powerful and meaningful STEM educational programs that pave the way to a new life for the children we serve.

“As a STEM major, volunteering with Outreach360 was incredibly rewarding. I got to challenge myself by figuring out how to turn my scientific knowledge into fun camp lessons. Every time a student was inspired to ask questions and figure out how the world works, I was reminded why I wanted to become a scientist in the first place, ” Kennedy Gould, a student at UC Davis, explained.

Teaching abroad can open doors for volunteers. Being exposed to service abroad will initiate you into the emerging world of global citizenship. With these experiences, you will become more conscientious of the needs of the international community. Furthermore,  volunteering as Caminos Volunteer or a short-term volunteer will encourage you to continue learning about issues around the world, and become powerful advocates for action and change.
Volunteers will be teaching students about STEM subjects and
how they can be applied within the international community.

This exchange of knowledge will empower your personal growth of knowledge in the STEM field by requiring you to think outside the box in order to teach about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a sustainable way. What may be practiced in the United States or Canada, may not be practiced in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Discovering these differences will further your growth as a STEM professional. Most importantly, it will motivate students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Carmiña Londoño, a former Outreach360 volunteer, says, “The Outreach360 students are curious about the natural world and eager to learn about science and how ‘things work’. The students really appreciate the hands-on experiences that Outreach360 can bring them through the science camps.  Leading or participating in a science camp is a rewarding experience that will open the minds of these young, potential scientists while leaving an indelible mark on one’s heart.” 
Learn more about Outreach360 here: www.outreach360.org
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Caminos Volunteer Finds Friendship

St. Lawrence University Junior Ollie Smith interacts with Nicaraguan student at the Outreach360 Learning Center in Jinotega, Nicaragua.

St. Lawrence University Junior Ollie Smith traveled to Nicaragua in August 2017 as an individual volunteer with Outreach360. Ollie has volunteered with Outreach360 seven times since his first trip to the Dominican Republic in 2010. During the Summer of 2016, Smith participated in the Outreach360 Caminos program, which is an eight-week internship experience housed in Jinotega, Nicaragua.

What keeps him coming back to volunteer with Outreach360 is the memories and interactions he has with the students. Although the students inspire him to return each year, he is most fond of the Outreach360 staff and volunteers. The relationships that Ollie has built while volunteering motivates his passion for service.

“Obviously, I come back for the kids, but also another reason that drives me to come back is the people. What’s great about Outreach360 is that you meet amazing people, from kitchen staff to leaders. You meet new people every time. It’s amazing the connections you make here,” Ollie said.

Ollie taught English immersion classes to 37 Nicaraguan students from the German Pomares neighborhood located in Jinotega. Ollie became close to these students as a Caminos Volunteer in 2016. Working with the students continuously for eight weeks allows Caminos Volunteers the opportunity to create long-lasting relationships.

The Caminos Volunteer Program boosts leadership skills in an unfamiliar environment. He became quickly attached to his new surroundings in Jinotega while serving as a Caminos Volunteer. Although he often felt pushed outside of his comfort zone, he felt rewarded in more ways than one, he explains.

Ollie says, “I like trying to learn from my experiences, good or bad, but working with the Caminos program was an amazing one. It helped me develop new leadership qualities in myself. Leading adults who are older than you, and kids who are tinier than you; it really builds your character.”

Volunteering abroad provides a unique opportunity for those looking to find internships in education. With Outreach360, Caminos volunteers take on the role of a teacher to educate underserved students in Nicaraguan communities.

“The students grow, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. The best example of this is this one particular student at the Learning Center. As long as I have known her, she has barely said a peep. This year, I think, she has said more to me in one week than she has said in the 5 or 6 years that I have known her. She has really come out of her shell,” Ollie said.

Outreach360 welcomes Caminos volunteers, like Ollie, to serve in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic for as long as six months. The organization immerses Caminos volunteers in cultural experiences unique to Nicaragua.

Ollie mentions, “The Caminos program is the best way to spend the summer. You get to be really immersed in Nicaraguan culture and you get to know the ins-and-outs of Outreach360.”

More information about Outreach360 Caminos Internship can be found here: https://outreach360.org/volunteer/individuals-long-term-internships/.

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I Started a Team From Scratch!

Penn State 2017 graduate Alyssa Gehman reads with a Nicaraguan student in the Outreach360 Learning Center located in Jinotega, Nicaragua.

Penn State Alumni Alyssa Gehman traveled to Jinotega, Nicaragua for two weeks in August 2017 as an individual volunteer for Outreach360. This was Alyssa’s first time traveling to Nicaragua as an individual volunteer, whereas in the past she has traveled with large groups of fellow college classmates. Alyssa has volunteered with Outreach360 five times since her first trip to Nicaragua in March of 2014. What makes Alyssa so remarkable is her dedication to volunteering with Outreach360, which ultimately has inspired her to lead large groups of Penn State underclassmen to volunteer in Nicaragua without administrative support.

Interacting with the kids is what keeps her coming back, she says. Alyssa’s experiences volunteering with Outreach360 prompted her to lead not one, but two volunteer trips from Penn State. Most notably in the winter of 2016, she pioneered a volunteer trip for 16 people from Penn State as a Campus Representative intern with Outreach360.

“It was like having a part-time job on top of school, on top of having an actual job, and on top of everything else going on, but it was the best thing I ever did. I loved it,” Alyssa remembers.

Alyssa was inspired to share the Outreach360 volunteer experience with her fellow Penn State classmates after having participated in volunteer trips with Penn State Altoona’s student-run service organization called Students Committed to Service. Although she had organizational support on the Penn State Altoona campus, that was not the case at Penn State.

Alyssa explains, “I started from nothing. I had no organization, had no funds, had no special way to advertise. It was all just through word of mouth and maybe a few posters. Somehow, after months of work, I had a huge group of 16 people willing to volunteer.”

Alyssa taught English immersion classes to 37 Nicaraguan students from the German Pomares neighborhood located in Jinotega during these trips. Her group engaged the students in creative lessons that encouraged the kids to get on their feet. Together, she and her Penn State classmates made learning fun.

The rewards for leading such a trip empowered Alyssa to become a leader on her campus. Affectionately known as the “Nicaragua Girl” at Penn State, she embraced her love of service by sharing her experiences with everyone who would listen.

“Realizing that I could do it by myself was amazing. I love leading other people, kind of being the ‘mom’ of the group, and sharing my passion. I’m so happy I got to bring a group down otherwise I would have had to go by myself or I might not have even gone,” Alyssa stated.

The best part about her experiences with Outreach360 over the years has been the number of forever friends that she has brought back home with her. She recalls a memory with her now best friends after they ran down the streets of Jinotega to get a smoothie on their last day in the country. They barely made it back to the volunteer house before nightfall, but the smoothie was worth the mad dash, she says. It’s simple moments like these that have brought Alyssa closer to her Outreach360 volunteer family.

Outreach360 welcomes pioneer volunteers, like Alyssa, to serve in impoverished areas in Latin America year-round. Alyssa says the opportunity to work with Outreach360 will push you outside of your comfort zone, but the trip is worth the travel. She hopes that other volunteers will feel inspired enough to lead trips of their own one day.

“Outreach360 has changed my life. I don’t know where I would be if I never came on this trip. I’ve learned so much about myself. I learned my purpose in life. I’ve met so many amazing people that I will probably be friends with forever. I’ve learned so much about what I want to do and who I want to be as a person after I came here,” she said.

More information about Outreach360 can be found here: www.outreach360.org.

 

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