From Brazil to Britain: student summer experiences
Though Centre students are busy getting into the swing of fall classes, their summer experiences remain strong elements of their academic and personal growth, especially for those who traveled abroad to work and learn.
Matt McCurdy ’15 and Cheyenne Evans ’14
McCurdy and Evans traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they taught at Our Lady of Mercy School.
The duo’s work focused on high school students who were interested in attending an American college or university. Most students in Brazil learn English at school, but rarely do they get the opportunity to practice speaking, listening and writing with native speakers. McCurdy and Evans provided this important opportunity.
As a math major, McCurdy taught a two-week session preparing students for the math portion of the SAT, a test they have to take to gain entrance to American colleges and universities. Evans, an English major, taught a course on the reading and writing sections of the SAT.
McCurdy and Evans were the first two Centre students to work at this particular school, and as such, they were thrown into a situation with next to no information or preparation beforehand.
“I’m extremely lucky I’ve had such amazing classes and professors at Centre to help me prepare for the teaching and education aspects of this internship,” says McCurdy. “If only they would have made sure Cheyenne and I were fluent in Portuguese!”
Despite the language barrier, McCurdy and Evans bonded quickly with their students; one of McCurdy’s favorite memories was a hiking trip to Morra da Urca with his class.
Ultimately, the internship has been invaluable in teaching both students how to be flexible and how to adapt to an unfamiliar and potentially daunting situation. Navigating a foreign city without knowing much of the language was a challenge to say the least, though both students made the best of it, and recall their mishaps with laughter.
For McCurdy, the trip to Rio de Janeiro only confirmed his desire to become a teacher.
“This internship furthered my goal of helping students learn math and developed my appreciation for teaching.”
Evans, too, gained valuable experiences that will benefit her in whatever career path she takes.
“Although I’m not planning on pursuing a teaching career, Rio provided many wonderful opportunities that will no doubt enhance my future,” she says. “I learned how to effectively communicate with a group, collaborate with a partner to reach a common goal, and see my plans through from abstract design to tangible success.”
Avery Williams ’15
On the other side of the globe, Avery Williams traveled to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for the summer, where she studied international human rights law.
Williams has been interested in studying at LSE for some time, particularly since it attracts not only students but also professionals from some of the world’s biggest companies and organizations, such as the Bank of England, the European Commission and the United Nations.
Studying international human rights law was a rigorous and rewarding experience for Williams, who notes that despite the copious amounts of reading and class discussion, she felt well prepared to study the subject. She especially enjoyed getting a truly global perspective on human rights law.
“There were diverse students from around the globe—Turkey, Iran, India, Holland, Denmark, Germany and France—as well as people already employed by human rights organizations, human rights think-tanks and non-governmental organizations,” she says. “I was exposed to many differing viewpoints and opinions concerning human rights issues because my classmates had so many varying cultures, religious backgrounds and political beliefs.”
As an international studies major and global commerce minor, Williams got a first-class summer experience at LSE. One of her favorite experiences was sitting in on some of the School’s public lectures, which featured speakers Lord Meghnad Desai and Charlie Bean.
“I sat in the row directly in front of the Queen’s economic advisors, which was kind of exciting,” she notes. “I also enjoyed the opportunity of both meeting and learning with students and professionals from around the world.”
Williams credits her time at Centre as one of the primary reasons she was so successful at LSE this summer.
“My class grade at LSE was based on a paper and a strictly-timed written final exam,” she explains. “Many of my fellow students at LSE were extremely nervous when faced with the prospect of a written paper and essay exam, as their universities required little to no writing. I credit Centre, with its emphasis on writing, for my confidence and ability that led to my success at LSE and my ultimate attainment of an A in the class.”
Most importantly for Williams, her time at LSE was instrumental in developing her education and her future career.
“Going to LSE has cemented my confidence in the choice of my major and minor at Centre and has shown me that I have a passion for human rights and development,” she says. “Whether this leads me into a career in international law, foreign affairs or business is yet to be determined, but I know my last few years at Centre will guide me to the right pathway that I’m meant to take.”
By Mariel Smith