This past summer, senior English major Joelle Hamilton traveled to Mexico to map and write about the hiking trails that wind through the Sierra Madre mountain range. This might not sound like the typical kind of work an English major would find themselves doing, but Joelle found that her English studies greatly aided her during her time abroad. Joelle recently discussed her internship and her experiences working in Mexico with English Department Communications Intern Tim Mahoney.

What was the internship about?
My internship was a collaborative trail writing project in Southern Mexico. I produced eight descriptions of trails in the Sierra Madre Range to promote tourism in the area. The trails ranged in difficulty from a dramatically inclined mountain ascent through primary forest, to a mildly winding path through remarkable stands of Ficus and Mezcal.

That sounds incredibly interesting. How did you find this internship?
The internship didn’t exist before — I worked with the generous support of Eduardo Bone of the Center for Conservation Leadership at CSU and the Mexican NGO Pronatura to create my role.

Was this your first time working abroad?
This was both my first time working abroad and my first time traveling by myself. There were challenges, (a mighty bout with food poisoning jumps to mind) but there were also extreme joys: communicating in a new dialect of Spanish with coffee farmers, learning to ride a motorcycle, and working with incredible specialists in birding and mapping at Pronatura.

How did your English studies help you?
My English Literature studies proved a great asset when writing the actual narrations of the trails. I was able to give attention to things like varied sentence structure, intelligible grammar, and concise description — practices I have learned through earning my degree. Studying English also bolstered the communication skills I needed in the initial phases of planning both the internship and the final deliverable product.

Why is it important to study English and the humanities?
More largely, I think studying English Literature teaches us about stories and storytelling. Stories articulate the past and foresee the future, and storytelling exists in every part of the world. You are one yourself! As an English major working abroad, I began to see myself as a storyteller, a transmitter of spoken and written information in a larger, more global context. I brought this more expansive, impactful sense of myself back home.