“Don’t be afraid to speak in Spanish and make mistakes.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Kelsea Mensh
Age: 19
Hometown: Blacksburg, Virginia
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (advanced)
University: Virginia Tech
Bachelors: Spanish with International Studies Minor
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Kindergarten Teaching in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: May 2016
Claim to fame: Kelsea has a strong appreciation of other cultures. Thank you for your service, Kelsea!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer, because I felt that there was something missing in my life, and I believe that was perspective. I wanted to gain a new perspective and to learn about a new culture in a way that is different from just being a tourist. I had always wanted to help people in a completely different environment than the one I was used to and to learn from people living much differently than myself.

What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was when the teacher would ask the kids what they have to be happy about every morning. Though they come from very low income areas and had problems at home, every one of the kids would say something positive. They were all five years old, but they would say things so profound such as how they love their family or how their parents do so much for them. They would then sing a song about being thankful for the sun and rain and various things. I wanted to cry every time they sang it.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
I would tell a future volunteer to not be afraid to speak in Spanish and make mistakes. I feel that the reason my Spanish improved so much was because I stopped being afraid of messing up. I made lots of mistakes but everyone who I talked to would politely correct me, and I learned from them. Even though I am a Spanish major, I felt overwhelmed at times. I also had great days that made up for those times.

In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
I miss so many things about Peru, from the lively culture to the city adventures but what truly makes the country is the incredible people.

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Related post:
Meet Susan St. Louis, a very impressive woman from California, who volunteered with UBELONG at the caregiving project in Cusco, Peru.