Catching up with Taylor and Hollie at the CRC
by Josie Camarillo, ’14
Taylor Faranda and Hollie McCrea, both 2012 graduates, felt a strong call to return to Latin America after studying there during their time at Whitworth. Taylor is a native of Colorado Springs and graduated with Cross Cultural Studies and Spanish degrees. Hollie hails from Boise, Idaho and graduated with Spanish and English degrees, as well as a Sociology minor.
The two friends recently accepted positions at “Whitworth South,” the university’s Costa Rica Center (CRC), and after spending their first two months living and working abroad, they are settling in to the Tico culture. Hollie and Taylor are thrilled to be involved with Whitworth in a new way and to see their alma mater from a new perspective. We recently caught up with them to learn more about them, and about their time at the CRC.
What made you decide to come to Whitworth (originally)?
Taylor: I knew that I wanted to go to a school out of state and experience something different than where I grew up. I was looking for a small Christian school, and I applied to eight schools. I visited Whitworth when I went to the Faculty Scholarship Competition spring of my senior year [of high school] I enjoyed the community at Whitworth so much that I decided to go there.
Hollie: I found out about Whitworth through a college fair, and identified with their Presbyterian background. I filled out the Dean’s Application, visited in March, and fell in love, so I decided to come. The size of Whitworth especially drew me.
How did you find out about the CRC opportunity, and what made you take the position?
Taylor: I knew the assistants who had worked here before. Travis, who is currently here, was a teaching assistant during my CASP trip. He’s been here two years now. I was also connected through the Spanish Department and through Lindy Scott, my Spanish professor freshman year. I knew I wanted to be abroad. The opportunity fit my interests and was great for going into cross cultural education, which I am passionate about.
Hollie: I studied here in Spring 2011. I love the campus, how it’s run, and its mission to be a global neighbor and to work for the good of others. I fell in love with the people, especially my host family. When I heard about the Student Life Assistant position, I thought “What the heck, it’s everything I love in one job: Spanish, Res Life and Costa Rica,” and applied! I didn’t feel like I was done in Costa Rica yet. It feels like another home to me.
What is your official job title and how do you spend your time?
Taylor: We finally settled on the title “Student Life and Program Assistant.” We focus a lot of our time supporting the students and coordinating programs. Hollie and I specifically work with our Administrative Assistant, Priscilla, to find internships for all students of different majors. We work to make sure the students and the internship sites are both getting beneficial experiences. We also work a lot with coordinating home stay families and this year, we are each teaching assistants with different professors, as well.
What advantages and disadvantages do you think being an alumna gives you in working at the CRC?
Hollie: An advantage is that we can bring Student Life ideas that were facilitated at Whitworth and see how they work here. We have the advantage of knowing the positions the students are in and what academic requirements they need to fulfill. A disadvantage is that we can get caught up in the Whitworth mindset and sometimes it’s hard to step back and see things through a different lens.
What has been your favorite part so far and why?
Taylor: I absolutely love living in Central America and being surrounded by the amazing people here. They are so kind and welcoming. I enjoy getting to use my Spanish. I also really enjoy working with this team and getting to support the students as they engage in cross cultural learning.
What one thing do you think makes the CRC such a unique opportunity for students? And for staff?
Hollie: It allows students of every level of Spanish to study abroad. You’re not inhibited by your language ability; you can still have the experience and see it firsthand. For staff, being the person that puts together the programs and plans the trips and internships that are integral in the students’ experiences here is an incredible opportunity. You’re a huge part of introducing students to a more global perspective.
What new and exciting things are coming up for the CRC this year?
Taylor: We are very thrilled about the Cuba trip. It should be a great addition. We are also really looking forward to the possibility of more students here. We have 19 this fall – the most we’ve had for fall semester – and we want more in the spring. The center is continuing to work on sustainability methods and pursue relationships with the community.
Hollie: I will say that the program is becoming really developed and it will be so exciting to have bigger groups of students. I think that studying abroad is an important part of education and something that every student should have the opportunity to do. The Costa Rica Center is a great opportunity for students who want to stay on track with their requirements and also study abroad. I say that as both a CRC alum and as a staff member.
Taylor: I absolutely love the job and being here in the culture working with Costa Ricans. I hope that all Whitworth students consider studying abroad during college, because it is so integral to their education. We would love for you to come to Costa Rica!
We will be checking in with Hollie and Taylor periodically throughout the upcoming year to see how their jobs and the CRC progress.
Until then, you can learn more about what is happening at the CRC on their Facebook page. To read more about Taylor’s time at Whitworth and about her first trip to Central America, see our blog post from May.