Castleton Spanish Education student Brian Garvey, '14 spent the summer leading up to his senior year giving back to young orphans in Argentina as he embarked on what he calls the international volunteer study abroad trip of a lifetime.
Traveling through the API Cultural Embrace study abroad program, Garvey dedicated three months to completing volunteer work and language teaching at an orphanage located in Buenos Aires where he worked closely with 24 orphaned children ranging in age from 2 to 18 years old.
“I couldn’t imagine how 24 kids were being raised by only a handful of workers and volunteers,” said Garvey.
While at the orphanage his daily responsibilities included assisting with laundry and meal preparation for the children, as well as frequently checking for lice infestations, a common occurrence in the close living corridors.
The remainder of his time was spent functioning as a role model and mentor to the children, teaching them how to pronounce and read basic Spanish words.
“It was incredibly frustrating for me at first to hear the true stories of why each child was there and it was just as hard to see how they barely had any toys or space to play,” said Garvey, “I really got to know each and every one of them.”
Despite the harsh environment of the orphanage, he found positive ways to connect with the children, giving them a truly memorable experience. He organized several group trips including visits to the local children’s theater and a day trip to the zoo.
Garvey’s abroad experience has encouraged him to continue making a global difference. After graduation he plans to do work in various other countries, teaching the Spanish language to children and adults.
“It was an extremely rewarding experience,” he said, “It felt good to give back.”
Learn more about study abroad opportunities available at Castleton!