In an interview for a marketing position many years ago, I asked my prospective employer, “Whether or not I receive this position, what do you think it takes to succeed in this field?” His response was one that I have always carried in the forefront of my work ethic. He said, “Whatever you do, always think five steps ahead. If you think you have a great idea, you should already be thinking of the next one … always think in terms of the future.”
I mention this anecdote because it truly sums up why I chose to intern abroad. For me it was an intentional and strategic decision that kept my future in mind. I knew it was a service learning opportunity that would link together my academic achievements at SDSU while helping me prepare for law school applications. Furthermore, I thought about how interning abroad would be a fantastic high-impact practice for scholarships and fellowships.
Interning in Ecuador has been an out-of-this-world experience. I live in the north side of Quito and every day at 8 am sharp, I hop on the Ecovia Transit Bus. For only 25 cents, I commute to Centro Historico; and from there, I take a four block walk alongside buildings that have been standing since the early 1500s. It is impossible to not feel the energy and the heartbeat of the city. The aromatic smells of traditional desayunos, chefs pressing fresh juices, merchants selling exotic fruits and the feeling of cobblestone on my shoes reminds me that I am having the opportunity of a lifetime.
For my internship, I work in the Mayor’s Office and my supervisor has ensured that I am both embracing work and Ecuadorian culture. As an English major and honors interdisciplinary studies minor, I have been able to use my disciplines to translate international documents, draft reports from national surveys and fine-tune my Spanish fluency. I have been using a lot of digital tools to aid me in the process of understanding other fields of study such as international politics, public policy and statistics.
The additional aspect to my internship is going out to different parts of Quito and visiting communities. Just this past week I went to zone of the city called Calderón. I observed as officials planned an event in which the mayor was going to speak. Today, I am going to an event for the opening of a new public transportation system.
In my time travelling around the city, I have noticed a few things. First, Quito is incredibly safe! Citizenship here has a very collective feeling; it’s not so much about the individual as it is about the community as a whole. Quito, and Ecuador in general, also has a very liberal immigration policy, and the city is just as ethnically diverse as San Diego. For that reason, I always feel secure and welcomed no matter what.
Secondly, there are unique challenges for a city built 9,000 feet in the mountains, and as a result, geography plays a pivotal role in public policy. Just recently, the Alcaldía (township) has moved forward with developing cable cars as a mode of public transportation. This in turn allows isolated communities to become connected to the city.
As I ready for my final four weeks in Quito, I am thankful for my mentors in the Weber Honors College and the Division of Undergraduate Studies for teaching me the importance of interdisciplinary education. For me it is a reminder of how grateful I am for being a student at San Diego State University. I have truly had a liberal education that has taught me the importance of stepping beyond my academic boundaries in order to collaborate with others.
Teddy Bruni is a senior studying English Literature as pre-law with a minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. He is taking part in an intensive 9-week internship in the mayor’s office in Quito, Ecuador.