API Staff Profile: Carolyn Boudreau, Program Representative

“When reflecting on my experiences in Latin America, especially my time volunteering in Guatemala, I realize that you don’t need an abundance of things in your life to be happy. Interacting with happy people who live on so much less than I do on a daily basis has proven that.”

This revelation comes from Carolyn Boudreau, one of API’s newest outreach interns. She’s talking about the “humbling aspect” of her volunteer work in Latin America. “Guatemala was the most underprivileged place I have visited, yet I couldn’t help notice how happy the people were while I was volunteering there. I would encourage volunteer work to anyone who is interested. It is such an amazingly gratifying experience to know you have worked to benefit the lives of others. In stepping outside of one’s home country, one is able to pay attention to the needs of others that may be much more elementary than the needs they are familiar with in their own country.”

While the volunteer experience Carolyn is speaking of happened just this past summer, her journey into the Latin American culture began long before. At the age of 16, Carolyn’s family hosted a student from Costa Rica. In return, Carolyn would go to Costa Rica to be hosted by a Costa Rican family just the same. Between this experience and her time volunteering in Guatemala, Carolyn would visit Latin America four more times.

“Having spent time in both Costa Rica and Guatemala, I would say the most noticeable difference between life here and there is time and family. In the U.S., I always feel pulled in so many different directions and everything is very strictly scheduled. In Latin America, being on time isn’t a must, it’s more of a suggestion. But that’s not to say time isn’t valued. Families take time to slow down and enjoy each other’s company. I am very close with my own family, but I was surprised to see how integrated the lives of each family member were.”

While the vast majority of Carolyn’s volunteer work this past summer would be spent teaching English to young Guatemalan students, she also participated in a workshop, meant to teach mothers the benefits of preparing a nutritional meal. The workshop invited a speaker/chef to come in and talk about the importance of a nutritional balance and how to achieve it in a cost-effective way. “As I was listening to the talk, most of the information seemed obvious to me – it is important to eat breakfast and stay hydrated throughout the day. There are vitamins and minerals in food, which your body needs to grow and develop. The information seemed elementary to me, yet when I looked around the room, I saw women taking notes and asking questions. I realized that being educated on nutritional value is so important but it is not always a priority and the information is not always easily accessible.”

Carolyn would later report that during the workshop she was asked to come up to the front of the class. As she stood there, the teacher exclaimed, “Look how tall she is! This is the benefit of a nutritional diet.” At 5’1”, Carolyn, like us who know her, found such an exclamation more than slightly humorous. However, we couldn’t help but to agree. Carolyn, with her soaring personality, giant heart and high-reaching goals, certainly warrants such a trait. From Costa Rica, to Spain, to Guatemala, and now joining the ranks of travelers at API, Carolyn is a welcomed member of the API team. Look how tall she is, indeed!

Spot Carolyn this fall for yourself. She and other API team members will be visiting campuses across the U.S. all semester. Click here  to see if we will be on your campus soon.

Carolyn Boudreau studied abroad with API in Salamanca, Spain and is an alumna of the API Peer Mentor Program. Carolyn is currently volunteering in Guatemala.  Carolyn is currently an API Program Representative.

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