This summer, University of Colorado student and EFAA volunteer, Jake Reagan was awarded one of the most prestigious scholarships in the country for his dedication to public service.
As a Spanish major, Jake was interested in volunteer opportunities to practice Spanish while making a difference in his local community. “I had a skill that I really wanted to put to good use,” said Jake. He was connected to EFAA’s Housing Program, where he was able to facilitate communication between Spanish- speaking participants and English-speaking staff and volunteers. He was able to help as-needed in between classes, which worked well for his busy student schedule.
Language is a powerful tool for human connection, which Jake quickly came to realize through his travels abroad. “If I could boil it down to one, digestible moment… it would be the feeling when you visit another country, and you don’t speak the language,” said Jake. “You can’t be understood, and you can’t understand… it’s asphyxiating. But when you see something familiar, or find someone who can speak English, there’s a spark.”
His favorite park of volunteering with EFAA was lighting that “spark” in participants when he was able to sit across the table with them and speak their language.
“[As an interpreter], you’re there to help someone express themselves and be fully themselves. You can witness a tangible change in the expression on someone’s face when they realize you can understand them… they relax, they feel comfortable, and they can say what they want to say.”
Congratulations, Jake! Thank you for your commitment to helping communities thrive.