Why We Do it Wednesday- Kallie

API employees work tirelessly in the U.S. and abroad to serve our participants and ensure they have the best international experience possible. At API, we all share stories of personal transformation by international experience. We remember our first days abroad, our first meals, and our first international flights. We have stories of transformation in common with our API alumni who study, work, intern, and teach abroad all over the world. In our new series, “Why We Do It Wednesday,” we’ll share a glimpse into why API employees love to work at API- through the eyes of our alumni.

This week we profile Kallie Gregg, API Global Leader, from Simmons College who studied in Barcelona, Spain.

“I chose to study abroad because I felt that as a Spanish student, it behooved me to go another country to improve and practice my language abilities. I felt that my goal for fluency would be best met while I was immersed in another culture. In Barcelona, I continued studying Spanish, began learning Catalan, and discovered a beautiful city within an equally enthralling country.  Kallie in Barcelona

I believe that to study abroad and travel internationally by yourself requires a great deal of personal leadership and individual strength. 

I chose to go abroad with API because I had known for years that I wanted to study in Barcelona, and my best friend studied with API in Madrid. She felt that going abroad was the best experience of her college career, and recommended API to me. When I discovered the Hispanic Studies program in Barcelona would enable me to study Catalan, I knew API was the right choice.

I believe the five best qualities of a leader are compassion, courage, intelligence, tenacity, and dedication. While abroad, I learned to employ all five of those qualities. An example of this were the constant small acts of courage that it takes to speak a new language in a foreign country every day. I made a goal with myself midway through the semester to have one conversation in Catalan every single day. 

I’ve been studying Spanish for nine years and spoke almost exclusively in the language during my classes and with my host mom. However, I was only just beginning to learn Catalan, and I was much less confident in my abilities. I worried that I would look stupid speaking it, that people might judge me for my lack of articulation. But I knew that unless I practiced in real time, I would not improve.

So I promised myself that each day, whether it was asking a professor to clarify something, talking with someone on the train, or ordering a coffee, I would do my best to speak Catalan. I feel now that by doing this, my language ability is much greater than it would have been if I only spoke Catalan in an academic context, and I’m so glad I challenged myself.”

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