Jill Steinmetz, a 2018 Goshen College graduate, is currently serving as a digital media specialist for Mennonite Central Committee as a part of their Service and Learning Together program in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Steinmetz knew from a young age while listening to stories of past volunteers in her Mennonite church in Northwest Ohio that she wanted to work abroad for MCC.
She was intrigued by the impact these volunteers had on their communities and the unique experiences they had and she wanted to become a part of that herself.
She initially intended on taking a gap year between high school and college to accomplish this dream, but decided instead to focus simultaneously on competing in collegiate soccer and her studies, choosing to take the more traditional route and attend college immediately after high school.
After graduating from GC with a double major in graphic design and Spanish, Steinmetz said everything fell into place when she was given the opportunity to enter the SALT program, allowing her to travel and test the skills and knowledge given to her from a liberal arts program while taking part in a work assignment.
SALT is a year-long program, consisting of a work placement in a foreign country. Participants live with host families while on assignment.
In her opinion, the SALT program is similar to an extended SST, which Steinmetz participated in the summer before her junior year of college, with the benefit of also being an actual job.
Steinmetz said, “It is totally experience-based. Personality and maturity also play into it.”
Steinmetz knew she wanted to work in a Spanish speaking country and work in her area of expertise, graphic design. She said, “The position I was offered was idyllic because I get to work in my areas of study, connect with the local community [and] work with all kinds of amazing partner organizations!”
She feels that studying at a college such as GC prepared her for her current position because she learned how to create genuine relationships, do purposeful work in helping with MCC and explore herself and what matters most in her life.
“I learned through my four years how to connect with and learn from others who are different than myself, prioritize my time and use it wisely, be open and respectful to new ideas and cultures and to better love myself, others, God and creation,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz loves her job in Honduras and feels she is a key component of MCC through her work with digital media and has taken on many responsibilities to build the program and connect with other countries around the globe. Steinmetz says her responsibilities and activities are diverse in her job in Honduras.
“I work with everything communications related for MCC Honduras, which includes working with our partner organizations and connecting with MCC North America,” Steinmetz said. “I take photos, design, conduct interviews, write stories, update social media, create the newsletters [and] visit partners. I try to come up with creative communications strategies and projects for communicating about MCC’s work in Honduras, mainly to partners and other stakeholders nationally but also to constituents internationally, as appropriate.”
She said she enjoys this work because she is able to further develop her skills in Spanish and bilingual communication. Both of these skills have enabled her to create a bond with her host family, who reside in San Pedro Sula, about an hour from the beach.
To Steinmetz, Honduras has become another home. Steinmetz said, “I love living with my host family, eating baleadas, and being forced out of my comfort zone basically all the time.”
Steinmetz encourages everyone who has questions or is interested in this program to reach out, saying she would be more than happy to answer any questions about SALT or MCC.
Steinmetz believes SALT is a great program and opportunity to get outside your comfort zone in a way that benefits the community. It also enables her and other SALTers to experience other cultures and learn about people different from them.