This week on the blog we are featuring Greenheart Travel alumni and telling the stories of “Where Are They Now?”. We handpicked alumni that are doing great things back home following their programs, and whose time abroad has shaped what they’re up to now. Stevie Taylor is a Greenheart Travel alumni from our Teach English in Italy program. Read on for more about what Stevie is up to now and how her time in Italy has shaped that.
I had the privilege of participating in the Greenheart Travel teach abroad program in Italy from February through May of 2018. I worked as an English teacher assistant in Bra, a town in the northwest region of Piemonte. Bra was a lot different from Los Angeles (where I live), but in a good way. It was quieter, quaint, more pure-hearted, simple, idyllic.
My favorite part of living in Italy was the emphasis on the small, simple things. Family time is huge in Italy. I loved that my host family always took time to spend together at lunch or at night after dinner (even though most nights I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough.) I love that businesses shut down at lunch and people go home to eat with their families. I learned (keyword being learned) to appreciate that the Italian public transportation isn’t always the most reliable, but that’s OK. It taught me to laugh, to revel in the unplanned and to be OK with things not going as planned. I loved savoring the taste of rich café, decadent tiramisu, and full-bodied wine. Italy taught me to slow down and take in the beauty and goodness around me, especially the simple things.
Now, I am back to Los Angeles not taking it slow. In my few months back, I have been working as a freelance journalist and editor, writing mostly for women’s publications. I have also been teaching elementary age kids writing as a writing assistant at a camp. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of hustle!
I have also set a goal to work on my fluency in Spanish. My time in Italy really encouraged me that speaking one language is so limiting. I want to always be a student of life and never stop learning.
I came back to Los Angeles with a clearer vision of who I am and who I am not. While in Italy, I taught one lesson on women’s rights, gender equality and equal pay. Some of my students’ didn’t think the pay gap affected Italy and some felt unaffected by cultural gender bias in sports, STEM fields, and higher education. This one lesson lit a flame in me for something that has always been there- to tell women’s stories and give them a voice. Now that I am back in LA, my vision is more clear. I have always known I want to write and create media, but now there’s a purpose behind it. I want to tell impactful stories – about women in professional sports who work a second job just to make ends meet, girls in third world countries who are forced out of school and into childhood marriage, and female trailblazers changing the conversation across industries. My time in Italy helped remind me of what I am truly passionate about. I am a writer passionate about giving women a voice.
Yes! My time abroad was not picture perfect. There were lots of ups and downs, but it was those hard times that taught me the most. I learned the value of languages and how age should never be a factor into why you choose to not continue learning. I learned the importance of making people (especially people who are outsiders because of their language, religion, faith, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality) feel welcome. My time abroad taught me it’s my job to see people, always, and to make them feel included. My time abroad also taught me to roll with the punches (those unexpected curveballs) and to not take things personally. Life abroad will thicken your skin and give you great bounce back powers!
It will do the complete opposite. As far as your resume goes, no university or job will disqualify you for traveling abroad. If anything, it will make you more of a competitor and show your ability to think creatively, strategically and out of the box. Personally, your time abroad more than anything will open your eyes to how big the world is and the diversity of people out there. Ultimately, however, it will be a journey of personal growth, filled with ups and downs, but I guarantee if you push through to the other side, you will never regret it. The personal growth is something no other experience could give you.
Stevie Taylor is a Greenheart Travel alumni from our Teach in Italy program. You can read more about her travels and time in Italy on her personal blog Life as Told by an Upcoming, 20-Something.