“I had students come up to me to say that they really appreciated the opportunities to talk in English.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Steven Frey
Age: 19
Hometown: Pennsylvania
Nationality: United States
University: University of Michigan
Degree: Chemical engineering major, Spanish minor
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (advanced)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 11 weeks
Start month: May 2014
Claim to fame: Steven is an Eagle Scout and enjoys playing the clarinet in the University of Michigan campus band.

Why did you volunteer in Mexico?
Looking back at my application to the UBELONG program, the reasons that I wanted to volunteer in Mexico included the opportunities to:

  • Make a difference in multiple lives
  • Connect with those I meet on a personal level
  • Learn about the culture and history of Mexico
  • Explore the Yucatan Peninsula
  • Improve my Spanish-speaking skills
  • Learn basic Maya language and culture

I can thankfully say that I have accomplished each of these goals during my time in Mexico.

What was your impact volunteering on your project?
In addition to teaching English and providing support to teachers within English and science classrooms, I would also chat with students in English during recess periods. A few times, I had students come up to me to say that they really appreciated the opportunities to talk in English, as they planned to study medicine or engineering in the United States. These types of moments made me feel that I was making an impact.

How did your UBELONG experience change you?
This is a difficult question, because although I know I have been changed in many ways, it is not easy to describe.  Just one example is my change in global perspective.  Being in college for most of the year, I realize that I have been living in a bubble and have acclimated to a similar routine and setting day after day.  In that type of lifestyle, it’s difficult to imagine anything outside of what you’ve become accustomed to.  Volunteering in Mexico allowed me to meet so many new people and experience a brand new culture, which really opened my eyes to the incredible world around me.

In a sentence or less, describe your experience.
My time in Mexico was an enriching opportunity, and I will remember the people I met and the lessons they taught me for a lifetime.

Related post:
Meet Alyssa Tender, a University of Michigan student who volunteered with UBELONG in Rabat, Morocco on the HIV/AIDS Awareness project.