I have been in the U.S.A. for 8 months and I have had amazing experiences. One of the most important things that I have done in my life is community service. Through all this time I have realized that students who get involved in community service not only help others, but also expand their abilities, develop empathy, leadership skills, problem-solving, collaboration with others, time management, and communication. I never thought I was shy until I left my country. However, doing community service is one of the things that is helping me overcome this weakness. During my community service, I have developed real-world skills to help me succeed in school and in life. During this semester, I did community service in three different activities. I am glad because I was able to help people in different ways.
First, I had the opportunity to help a Japanese student organization. They had a cultural night and needed volunteers to perform cultural activities from Japan. We were divided into different groups. I performed two folklore dances from Japan. It was a great experience, although during the practices, I thought I would not be able to learn the steps because they were so difficult. But my Japanese friends were really patient and taught me the steps many times. I was helping them for this activity and at the same time I was learning a lot of things about Japanese culture. We also wore Japanese clothing for the activity. The Japanese night was a success and all the audience loved the different activities performed.
Second, teaching Spanish and giving presentations about my culture was something else that I did as part of community service. I loved doing this because I noticed many people did not know much about my country. Every time that I say that I come from Guatemala, many people think that is a city in Mexico. By giving presentations about my culture, many people got to know about my country. As I was showing pictures about my traditions and about beautiful landmarks in Guatemala, many students got interested in visiting my country. The Spanish professor is a Native American and he was happy because students were able to practice their Spanish skills with me. I enjoyed a lot teaching Spanish, especially because in the future I will be an English teacher. It was such a nice experience to stand in the front of a different group of students. I am so happy because the Spanish professor gave me some advice so that I can apply in the future when I start giving real tutoring.
Finally, the last activity was helping at the International Festival. Every single year at Minnesota State University Mankato, the international student organization holds this activity. It is one of the biggest activities that is held during the year, and as a result, it requires a lot of assistance. The local community is invited to learn about different cultures around the world. There were three different sections: culture presentations, where students talk about their home country; a section in which students share their typical food; and a section where students share traditional games with children from the local community. It took a lot of time to plan what kind of decorations we should use. We had many meeting so that we could get everything ready for the activity. As community service, I helped decorate the building. I was helping in the games section as well. I enjoyed this a lot because it was a benefit for the local community. I could see how people were enjoying the activities and it was deeply satisfying for me because I know that many students just like me were doing a good effort to hold this activity. The activity was amazing.
Written by Denilson Ronaldino Xec Yacabalquiej, 2018-2019 Global UGRAD student from Guatemala at Minnesota State University, Mankato