The memories….. My most memorable experience throughout my 2017 SEAM was attending the Microsoft in Education Puerto Rico conference and not understanding a word anyone said. This experience was memorable because I had visited Puerto Rico on three separate occasions prior to my SEAM, and everywhere I went people spoke English. Additionally, English is the official language for the island, so never did I even consider that the conference would be in any other language. Boy was I wrong. Everything was in Spanish from the brochures to the welcome.
That incident forced me to pay closer attention to the island and to explore outside of the tourist areas. I then began to hear people speak Spanish when they were speaking to fellow Puerto Ricans more often than not. In the towns that are off the beaten path, Spanish was the primary language. I was humbled by that experience, and it profoundly changed the way I went about visiting the island. I began to think of Puerto Rico as a foreign country instead of a US territory.
Although I noticed English wasn’t the primary language on the island, I don’t think it changed my way of assimilating or getting around, because people still spoke English with me when they realized I spoke English. Most of the signs on the island are in English, so there wasn’t an issue reading things or communicating with natives.
Visiting the stores and interacting with the Retail teams was also refreshing. I witnessed a passion for community engagement that I don’t see on the corporate side of the business as much. I truly will never forget the passion and dedication to the community I witnessed in Atlanta, San Juan, and Miami.
My advice to people who are considering conducting a directed study is simple… select a topic your passionate about, and a place your curious about. Those two ingredients will make for an interesting and worthwhile summer. MY 2017 SEAM contributed to my education by allowing me to experience some of the phenomena that we learned in the classroom. For one summer, I lived some of the experiences that were written about in PR, Intercultural Communications, and Research Methods. The Directed Study afforded me the opportunity to develop real-life skills. For that I am forever grateful.