Name: Jacob Humerick
Hometown: Highland Park, Illinois
Nationality: United States
University: Northwestern University
Degree: Political Science and International Studies
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (advanced)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Quito, Ecuador
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: February 2017
Claim to fame: When studying abroad and when traveling in general, Jacob makes a concerted effort to listen and understand instead of imposing his own perspective on anything. This has helped him learn so much outside of academics, and this is the attitude that made him a great UBELONG Volunteer.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to volunteer through UBELONG because it gave me an opportunity to do more than just travel or volunteer. UBELONG connected me with an incredible family of coordinators, volunteers, teachers, and students which I would never have otherwise gotten to know. The program allowed me to feel at home in a neighborhood of Quito I hadn’t heard of before, to explore the most beautiful parts of Ecuador in my free time, and to work with my students (who taught me just as much, if not more, than I was able to teach them).
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I felt that I was able to bring a new perspective to my volunteer project. I was teaching English to students in Pre-K through 8th grade, and was the only native English speaker at the school. As such, I tried to not only teach the language, but to share my personal experiences to augment their learning.
What were your major challenges?
One major challenge was that I was teaching 5 or more different age groups on a given day, with little time to prepare in between. This required a lot of thinking on my feet, and trying to engage the students in creative ways. The other major challenge was maintaining order while the other teachers were out, as it took time to get to know the students and figure out how best to run class. Some of the classrooms didn’t have doors that would close, and so every now and then an 8 year old would sneak out and I would have to grab them before I could resume the lesson. It could get frustrating, but reminded me that I needed to do a better job of engaging the kids.
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory is of the day before Carnaval, when all of the students brought cans of foam to spray at each other (and especially at the teachers) at the end of the day. Everyone was so excited, and it was half an hour of pure fun.