Why We Do It Wednesday- Allison Duchesne

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 these 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 brief glimpse into why API employees love to work at API- through the eyes of our alumni.

This week we profile Allison Duchesne, an API alum from the University of Rhode Island, who studied abroad in Seville, Spain this past year.

Allison, her roommate and their host mom

Allison, her roommate and their host mom

“My two main reasons that I chose to study abroad come down to personal and professional growth. On a personal level, I wanted to broaden my horizons and push myself out of my comfort zone in order to become a more effective a global citizen. I believe that studying in a foreign country allowed me to experience cultural and social norms far different than those with which I was raised, and this in turn opened my mind to appreciate and care for other ways of living.

On a professional level, I chose to study abroad with the hopes of increasing my legitimacy as an educator of Spanish in the future. I went to Spain with the goal of improving my language skills and gaining first-hand knowledge of the culture, society, and people that I would be teaching about for the rest of my life. I am pleased to say that I feel I have met all of the goals that I originally sent for myself before studying abroad.

My international experience was nothing short of amazing. Recently, another student in my program wrote a piece about her feelings looking back on her time in Sevilla. I believe that she captured the sentiment perfectly when she said, “I feel empty because I left myself in Sevilla. I feel whole because I found myself in Sevilla. […] When I tell you that my study abroad experience was ‘good,’ know that it was good. But it was also so much more than that.” To me, that quote was profound because it completely encapsulated how I feel when reflecting on my experience.

When describing my international experience to a family member, I would tell them of the amazing culture and food that I experienced abroad. I would tell them of my host family and their welcoming and hospitable nature, and I would ensure them that, thanks to my experiences abroad, I now know that family can be those you have by blood, but it can also be complete strangers who live on the opposite end of the world, opening up their home and hearts to you, calling you their “niña.”

When explaining my international experience to my future employer, I would emphasize the traveling I was able to do and the challenges that I overcame abroad. I would speak of the strengthening of my interpersonal communication skills, my gained knowledge of the Spanish language, and my consistent desire to push myself out of my comfort zone while abroad.”

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