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Volunteer While You're Here

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When first coming to Barcelona and starting CEA, I had not thought much about whether or not I was going to volunteer while abroad. Once I had orientation, however, I decided it wouldn't hurt to at least attend the informational meeting. One of my roommates and I went together, and we were shocked to learn how many different kinds of volunteer positions were available. I was excited to learn about unique ways to get more immersed in the culture and meet local people. There were even opportunities that aligned with my major and would give me great career experience. My roommate and I both got our first choice positions, and she now volunteers weekly teaching children English at an elementary school, while I am working on a film project that promotes an adult school in Barcelona.
 The unique building the school is located in is hard to miss.

As a film major, I could not have been luckier to find this opportunity. Along with two other students, I spend a couple hours a week filming classes and interviews at La Verneda school for adults. I learned shorty after starting volunteering that this is not a typical school. La Verneda prides itself on its democratic teaching style. Instead of having a formal teacher-student relationship, the students are called participants and everyone is encouraged to offer their opinions and insights in order to teach each other. The school values equality and cultural education, making it a truly inclusive and welcoming environment. Even with the language barrier (my time volunteering has helped me with my Spanish skills more than anything else abroad) the staff and participants of the school welcomed me and the other volunteers with open arms and I feel like a small part of their family.
 The school itself is small, but there is a lot going on here!

It was easy for me to get excited about filming the activities at La Verneda school. I have captured participants working together on academic activities, group readings of classic books, class interviews about their experience with a specific subject, and individual interviews about what this school means to different people. I have learned that the school has helped to transform the Verneda district over the last couple of decades. As the school thrives, so does the neighborhood, and vice versa. Many people have shared their journey out of poverty through the education at this school. People have told me how they feel valued and inspired there to make the most out of their lives, no matter their age or previous background.
 The Day of the Woman celebration was put
on by the school for participants and neighbors.

One of the most memorable parts of this experience for me was my recent visit to the school during their celebration of International Women's Day. I have gathered from my interviews that women in particular have been truly affected by this school. La Verneda has a very inclusive policy towards women and has helped many people out of abusive relationships and other bad situations through education in order to find a better life. While filming the Day Of The Woman celebration, I got to hear the stories of so many incredible women of different ages, educations, races, and experiences. It was truly inspiring to see the strong community at La Verneda school and how they come together for such important causes. I look forward to continuing to capture the success of these amazing people as they lift each other up and discover endless possibilities through this unique education.
 I loved hearing the experiences of so
many different incredible women.
 
 So many women (and some men!) showed up to the event and they were all incredibly nice to me.

Julia D. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Communications & Film at University of Michigan.

Julia Dixon is the Spring 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain in Barcelona, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Michigan.
 
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