Soul Food

Melody Lipford, Columnist •



This summer I was given an opportunity of a lifetime to travel to the beautiful mountain town of Copey, Costa Rica. Here, I volunteered as an ESL teacher for a month at a nonprofit organization called “Copey Learning Center. Primarily, I taught first and second grade and as time progressed, added on teaching high school classes as well as adult classes. When help was needed, I also assisted with preschool and kindergarten classes.

In addition to teaching English, I got to practice Spanish by living with a Spanish speaking host-family. Despite the language barrier, the entire community of Copey welcomed me with open arms and invited me into their homes like one of their own. As an English major and a Spanish minor, I was able to apply what I had learned in the classroom to real life. I developed a moreacute ability to adapt to other cultures, languages, acute ability to adapt to other cultures, languages, customs, and overall differing environments. I grew a deeper empathy for those learning a foreign language and in turn,this made me a better volunteer and ESL teacher.

I believe this experience helped me to learn the importance of becoming a global citizen. Having never traveled to another country before, I did not understand the significance of going abroad or the benefits of volunteering in a foreign environment. Including applying my Emory & Henry education in a real-world setting, making friends and professional relationships abroad, joining another community, exploring a new country, helping a student learn, and seeing the overall difference that community has made in my life.

In the end, none of this would have been possible without Emory & Henry. We have so many opportunities on campus that we don’t always take advantage of. I encourage you to consider applying for a study abroad trip to Costa Rica next summer. It has honestly been one of my favorite experiences during my college career.

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