Dan's Days in Las Graveras (Seville!)
What’s your internship placement?
My placement is in Environmental and outdoor education with Ecoeduca, which is an organisation that promotes environmental awareness among children and young people. I’m also helping to teach related subjects at a children’s academy, alongside my work with Ecoeduca.
And how has it been?
It’s been so enjoyable. Environmentalism is what I feel most passionate about, so this placement has been ideal.
It’s a really social place – there are so many people working here, and they’re all really fun, helpful, welcoming and encouraging. I feel like I’m progressing loads - with my Spanish, and in developing my skills in educating people about environmental issues. I’ve felt more comfortable in my role with each week. My job is to prepare and lead many of the activities that visiting school groups take part in when they come to the site, and this has been prefect for me. I now feel really comfortable doing what I do - I feel full of ideas for whatever I go on to do next, and I know that my Spanish has improved loads, because I’m using it every day, in such a communicative job.
What attracted you to this internship?
Environmentalism is really the field that I want to work in. I’m a geographer; my degree was in Human Geography, and in terms of making some sort of impact – making a change – I think my role is in education, and in spreading a message that I believe in. I’ve been doing that in Brazil, in the UK, and in Italy, and when I saw this job in Seville, it seemed like the natural next step. My friend actually messaged me about it, said that he thought I’d be perfect for it and that he’d be really jealous if I got it… so when I found out I’d got the placement I bought him a pint!
Any highlights from the placement?
It has to be the people there, and the kids – having the chance to inspire them. I’ve already got a bit of experience working with kids, and I think it’s always a good thing to try – even if you don’t know if you’re going to like it – as you can learn a lot about yourself as a person – it’s a test of patience, and you learn how to interact with people by getting onto their level. And it’s always a fulfilling experience – the kids here for example are always really interested and engaged. it’s been loads of fun developing this knowledge together and sharing ideas and perspectives; it always feels really progressive. It’s wonderful to have the chance to exchange ideas with malleable and inspired minds, and to share an important message with people who have a little more time ahead of them than I do, and who will shape the future – hopefully they will remember some of what they learned here and be inspired to act from environmental perspectives in the future… that would be pretty cool.
And what have you enjoyed about being in Seville?
The culture here is great – I think it suits me down to a T. I love being out of the house, without feeling like I’m rushing around the whole day. Here, you can meet someone for a drink, you can go out for tapas; it’s all very affordable, there are so many options. You don’t even have to spend any money to get the same experience – in somewhere like the Alameda for example, you can just soak up the atmosphere from sitting in the square – you don’t have to go and buy a drink if you don’t want to. You can just read a book, sit on a bench, make some art…
In the same way, you can be walking down a street or sitting at a café, and someone might be playing some really peaceful flamenco guitar behind you. And that’s wonderful, to have a soundtrack to your experience… You’re always surrounded by Spanish sounds; talking and laughter, glasses clinking together, music. And the city just makes it easy to have quality time. It’s so chilled out and the pace of life is slow; it’s laid back and helps you feel more relaxed in yourself.
Any recommendations for future interns?
I would say, in the first two or three weeks especially, go to a few intercambios and try and make some friends from Seville, because it’s really nice to have some local friends; they’ve shown me some really cool places, and they’re very friendly people. I’ve heard people say there’s a difficulty in getting into social groups because it’s only a small city and people have known each other for so long, but intercambios are an easy way to meet local people, or even American or British expats who are here teaching – they all have different experiences from different parts of town.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, I’d just say to get out and about, practise your Spanish, don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money in making friends and having drinks, because it’s affordable and it’s a lovely way to find your feet and enjoy your first few weeks – and that investment will keep on giving.
And what about our course in community development – are you enjoying it?
Yes! That was something that jumped out at me when I applied for the placement actually; I’m a big believer in the power of community development, and many aspects of it really seem to speak to our generation and the problems we need to tackle. I would like to live in a society where people come together and generate ideas and change collectively. So knowing a bit about how that works behind the scenes… getting an idea of how community groups can be initiated and grown is really interesting, because who knows – it might come to the point where I have an idea of my own, and I want to try and set something up myself! It’s great to have this foundation of knowledge about policies and legislation, examples of successful and not so successful ones to learn from… I think whether you go on to get involved in a community development group or not, it’s definitely something that can change your perspective on how to get involved in positive change, and the power of people.