Hello, everyone! My name is Alexis and I am one of the LSA International Scholars for the summer. I am representing UMich all the way in Mendoza, Argentina where I work as a marketing intern at an after-school program called Inmensa Esperanza for elementary school students in one of the underprivileged suburbs of the city. With the rest of the marketing team, I work on developing their website, search for donations of crucial supplies, and spread awareness of their work. I love that I have the opportunity to help the people in this community; the adults are so caring, and the kids are a joy to be around. It drives me to work harder to better their lives in during the time that I am here.
I chose to come all the way to South America because I wanted to challenge myself not only to give my time towards a great cause, but to also to learn about another culture. By living with hosts, working directly with the community, and exploring a new place, I am learning their values and ways of life. It has been interesting to do this while trying to move projects along because I am simultaneously learning how to handle a situation while in that situation. Of course, this has led to many mistakes along the way.
One of my first mistakes occurred when new members of our team arrived a few days after I started and I was asked to explain what I knew so far. I was caught off guard and managed to quickly say a few sentences, but my colleague had to save me and pick up where I left off. Although I tried to contribute where I could, the moment was lost. To make up for this incident, I approached the new trainees afterward to set up our first meeting as a team and ask them if they had any questions with which I could help them. I did my best to give them what knowledge I had, but there is still much we have to learn.
I think this is going to be one of the challenging things moving forward in my own experience and for those after me. With new people coming in frequently, we need a way to transfer over knowledge from those who are leaving to those arriving in order for the training period to be as quick as possible. Even though I have been here for two weeks now, I am still learning new aspects of my role and I would have appreciated a complete list or description of the job given to me so I could immediately start making progress on the projects that are going to take time.
With this in mind, I see an opportunity to help improve the transferring process. I am going to work on documenting everything I and my team do so that when we can write a complete report that is easy to read and informative for the next group after us. It is important to a project such as this that work continues to move forward despite the change in personnel. A non-profit such as Inmensa Esperanza needs constant attention. Those in my position need to put all of our effort into the job, but that is extremely difficult especially when you do not know everything that is expected of you.
Here are some photos of what my work looks like. Most of my work is online so I can complete my tasks at any location with Wi-Fi, but I prefer to work onsite because it keeps me focused and I can learn what needs Inmensa Esperanza has.