Sandra Escorza is a student at University of North Texas and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Madrid, Spain.
When hearing the phrase “study abroad” people automatically think of an opportunity to explore a new culture, to learn a new language, to travel, take classes with foreign students, try new food, etc. Those are all true benefits of studying abroad; however, studying abroad could also be an opportunity to become globally aware and make an impact in the community where you are currently studying. Volunteering is a great way to find out the problems the community is facing and help in overcoming these issues. Fortunately, I was able to do that while being abroad in Madrid.
Each year, ISA hosts a community service event for students to take part of during Thanksgiving week. Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday Spaniards celebrate, ISA still celebrates it since it’s a traditions for Americans, and although students are not home celebrating it with family they are still celebrating it with the ISA family. Furthermore, Thanksgiving is all about the things we are thankful for and showing our appreciation, so what a better way to show that we are thankful than by volunteering. This year, students were able to volunteer at Fundación Altius. Fundación Altius is non-profit social entity that was recently established on 2002. This non-profit foundation is located near Puerta de Toledo and helps people in need. They help families who are affected due to social, economic or personal circumstances. They assist individuals in the search for employment by helping them develop and undertake a personal and professional plan to help enter the labor market. Additionally, while these individuals are looking for employment, Fundación Altius provides basic food products, prepared meals that restaurants donate, and cleaning and hygiene products. They also offer other projects that help the community. While volunteering here, I found out a lot about the potential circumstances people face in Madrid, and not just in Madrid but in Spain in general. However, I was amazed at the various ways this foundation helps people in need, and I was so glad to be able to join. I was able to help by putting the donated food from restaurants into containers, so people could bring them home. Additionally, I was able to do my part by organizing the storage where they have food products and also giving out food products to the families. The best part of this was handing out the food products, because you could see the happiness of the families.
I’ve been volunteering for many years now, and I always had a goal of making an impact not just in my community but also internationally, so I made an impact here in Madrid’s community. I hope that you choose to do so as well if you have the opportunity to, because it is a great experience in which to take part.
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