Home Country: United States
Volunteering is second nature for Michelle Taramona-Rendon. The 20-year-old student has been volunteering for almost six years. She says any opportunity to help is an opportunity she’s going to take. “I want to be that person that makes a difference in somebody’s life, even if it’s just one person, because that one person will remember you forever.” As a dual language speaker, the American understands how hard it can be to pick up a new language and because Michelle wants to head to Colombia to volunteer her ability to speak Spanish will hold her in good stead. “If something is not understood, I have the ability to translate and break things down in a different way so the students are able to learn, and to me, learning - even the tiniest bit is the ultimate goal.”
Why are you passionate about teaching English abroad?
Any opportunity I find to make a difference is an opportunity I am going to take. IVHQ is doing something wonderful by allowing a prospective volunteer to possibly offer their knowledge and culture to others in a less than ideal situation. I am applying to this scholarship because I want to be that person that further expands somebody else’s knowledge. I want to be that person that is able to completely immerse myself in another culture and learn from someone else. I want to be that person that makes a difference in somebody’s life, even if it’s just one person, because that one person will remember you forever. Education is not something that should be tossed out. It enables individuals to grow as human beings and contributors of the world. Teaching has a large influence on the way individuals are able to learn. The act of learning is extremely compelling; breakthroughs are a beautiful thing.
What experience/skills can you apply to teaching English abroad?
I have volunteered with kids and teenagers since I was about 15 years old; that’s almost six years now. I have learned how to take every situation and make it the best possible. Working with these kids has taught me to look at things from a different viewpoint, and that is exactly what one has to do when teaching English abroad. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fast, but it should be enjoyable. It’s up to the volunteers to make the students, whatever age, feel as comfortable with their English learning as possible. As a camp counselor, and college student, I have learned how to be a leader. Being a leader enables the teaching process to work much more smoothly. I feel like I have the ability to take control of the various scenarios that will be thrown at me. Also, as a dual language speaker, I feel confident that I will be able to communicate much more effectively, especially for the program I am applying for. If something is not understood, I have the ability to translate and break things down in a different way so the students are able to learn, and to me, learning - even the tiniest bit is the ultimate goal.
Why do you believe you will be effective in teaching English abroad?
To see results, effort has to be put in, and I know that I am willing to put all the effort in the world plus more into this program. As a volunteer, I am there to facilitate a teaching experience. The students are now looking at me for guidance and direction when learning English. It is only right to satisfy what they are looking for. I know that my personal willingness to learn from them will help them learn from me. Being effective in teaching English doesn’t involve one or two main characteristics; it involves many traits all composed into a well-rounded volunteer. I am confident that I have the drive, patience, understanding, excitement, curiosity, and knowledge to be an effective teaching volunteer abroad.
What are you looking to gain from the experience?
Knowledge. I want to learn from the students as much as they want to learn from me. Having knowledge is so much more powerful than it’s actually talked about. It’s what allows us to be those doctors, engineers, travelers, athletes, etc. in the world. I want to gain a sense of understanding from the culture, and be able to immerse myself in it. The most organic and natural way to do that is by being in the country with the locals and learning from them. If I can learn something new, I know I will be doing something right. I hope to leave an impact on someone somewhere in the country by doing something meaningful for them, even if it’s just a simple conversation. I want to experience the experience.