Make The Connection

April 22, 2021 | By Cole Hatcher

Prose With Purpose

Ohio Wesleyan Senior’s Internship Helps Share Community-Improvement Work in Ecuador

Maureen Brennan-Reyes ’21

Name: Maureen Brennan-Reyes ’21
Hometown: Lewis Center, Ohio
Majors: Spanish, Politics and Government, Women’s and Gender Studies
OWU Connection experience: Tandana Foundation internship 

Brennan-Reyes is working as a remote storyteller volunteer for Tandana, a nonprofit organization that partners with communities in Ecuador and Mali to support local initiatives that address issues such as food security, water resources, education, environmental conservation, health, income generation, and community infrastructure.

My Responsibilities

“The organization started in Ohio,” Brennan-Reyes says. “I work with those in Ecuador. I conduct interviews with local community members and write blog posts. … Additionally, I’m paired with a virtual host family that I meet with at least once a week and communicate with often.

“The purpose is to bring awareness to the organization, tell the stories of local members, and ultimately help to raise funds to help further projects needed in the community.”

Ohio Wesleyan student Maureen Brennan-Reyes ’21 (right) talks virtually with an Ecuadorian host family as part of a current internship with the Tandana Foundation. Brennan-Reyes is a remote storyteller conducting interviews and writing articles to support Tandana fundraising for community-improvement initiatives. (Image courtesy of Maureen Brennan-Reyes ’21)

My Favorite Moments

“I’m just so happy to have met so many kind and fun people. We make things work through Zoom and have been sharing our cultures and lives with one another. I love to meet new people, make friends, and learn about their stories so this position is exactly perfect for me!”

Lessons Learned

“Entering a whole new culture with their own customs, you have to be cautious and respectful, especially when you’re coming from a completely different culture. Come to every conversation with curiosity and understanding, not with judgment.

“One conversation that comes to mind is when we were discussing traditional dishes within the country. They often prepare guinea pigs, and to me guinea pigs are a pet! It was definitely interesting to hear, and beyond that I know guinea pigs are huge in other countries, not like our small ones here.

“There are people from all over the world eating all kinds of animals, so even though I had this initial shock, I would definitely give the dish a try!”

My OWU Mentor

“My faculty advisor is Dr. Eva Paris-Huesca (associate professor of Spanish). We have biweekly meetings to reflect on the work I’m conducting. She’s also helped me with the contracts and logistical components to the internship.

“Even beyond that, she has aided me with the knowledge and materials to be able to do well in this internship. Her classes have prepared me from everything from how to interview in Spanish to analyzing Hispanic dramas and poetry!”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I preferred to stay in Ohio, and I loved the atmosphere and academic buildings of Ohio Wesleyan. I visited the Sexuality and Gender Equality House on an overnight visit and absolutely knew I found my home. Plus, the aid I received helped me go to my top choice!”

My Plans After Graduation

“I plan to take some time off after graduation but attend law school in the future. Many opportunities presented themselves throughout my time at OWU. The work experience, a previous internship at a law firm, and the education I received helped me see the work that needs to be done and how to go about pursuing my dream.”