Chelsea Escalante

When I first began envisioning this project, I imagined being able to interview dozens of people—both former volunteers and local Ecuadorians—of hearing about their fascinating experiences and all of the ways in which volunteerism has affected the way that they relate to the world around them. I envisioned pouring over the results, piecing together some similar threads, and sharing with my community partner the ways that those experiences have shaped their lives. Now that the summer is approaching, however, I am beginning to feel nervous about just how much I will be able to actually complete in such a short amount of time, especially because my project has grown in a couple of important ways since I first began envisioning it.

During class, we have talked a lot about oral histories and about how such data could easily end up being archived – never to be touched again – unless the time is taken to convert interesting parts of them into a greater story with a more accessible medium. I really liked the idea of converting my report into an edited video, so that it can be easily shared on the NGO’s website or by other service learning/volunteer programs that may be interested in knowing the long-term effects of volunteerism. However, this change does add a significant work load to my project, as now I have to worry about recording the respondents either by high-quality video or audio – something that can be tricky when you don’t live near any of them—as well as how to create an entertaining yet informational video with no editing skills whatsoever (I will definitely be enlisting help!). A second complication is that the NGO has also asked that part of the project include a Spanish language curriculum for incoming volunteers that can be used to improve language skills. This sounds like it would be an easy task for a Spanish teacher, but it can be a headache when I am unsure of the proficiency level and range of the volunteers, the format of the instruction, the materials that will be available, etc.

So, taking all of this into consideration, my to-do list seems to be growing by the minute. Currently on the top of the list are: get IRB approval, create interview questions, contact former volunteers and schedule interviews, figure out how to record those conversations in high quality video or audio when I am interviewing them remotely, contact local Ecuadorians and schedule interviews for when I will be there, start planning Spanish curriculum, and find an iMovie tutor. Most of these will be done during the first month of summer while I work from home, but the interviews with the local community members will be done the second month when I am in Ecuador. The writing of the report and the editing of the video will take place upon my return.

Given all that needs to be done in such a short time period, I have whittled the interview number down to about 20 people (10 former volunteers, 10 Ecuadorians). I think that as long as I am able to find participants from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences, there will be enough data to provide a thorough report to my community partner and (fingers crossed!) a decent edited video as well.