The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

August 29, 2011

Travel opens doors for local woman

DANVILLE — During a year-long trip to Brazil in 2006, Elizabeth Mellen caught the highly-infectious travel bug. She hasn’t been able to shake it — and doesn’t want to.

In fact, Mellen hopes she finds a career in which she can continue to travel and use her language skills.

Mellen returned to Danville in late July after spending six months as a volunteer in Quito, Ecuador. Last week, she moved to Houston, and will look for a job in the oil industry.

She also has studied in Peru.

“It’s very humbling and eye-opening,” she said of her travels to other countries. She advises other young people to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities.

Growing up in Danville was like being in a bubble, she said. So, when she graduated from Danville High School in 2006, she jumped at a chance to study in Brazil.

Mellen spent a year in Belo, Horizonte, Brazil, as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. She learned Portuguese while living with her host family, traveled a lot and learned about the culture.

“That sparked my interest,” she said. “I caught the travel bug.”

Back in the United States, she attended the University of Kentucky at Lexington, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. In the summer of 2010, she spent two months studying Incan civilization and Spanish in Cusco, Peru.

It didn’t take long before she and a friend decided they wanted to do volunteer work overseas, and began researching organizations. Careful to avoid scams, they settled on United Planet, affiliated with the International Cultural Youth Exchange Federation.

In January, she was assigned as a preschool teacher in a neighborhood in Quito, helping to teach day-care students ages 6 months to 2 years. There were 25 children in her class, and she often was left alone with them.

However, Mellen said she was able to communicate with the youngsters, and was surprised at how quickly they picked up English.

“It was very cool to see how far they came in six months,” she said. They went from simple words, such as “hi,” to complete sentences.

She received a monthly stipend, with food and housing included.

On weekends, she did a lot of traveling, and especially fell in love with the gorgeous beaches. She also visited the Galapagos Islands, and saw sharks and a huge sea turtle while snorkeling, sea lions and odd birds such as the blue-footed boobies.

Her parents, Tom and Nanette Mellen, visited her in Quito; Tom is a Danville attorney and Nanette is retired superintendent of the Danville School District 118.

The parents stayed in an eco-lodge with a thatched roof, no heat or air conditioning and imposed time limits on showers — all part of being ecologically friendly.

Tom remarked on his daughter’s travels, saying, “She’s far more adventuresome than I ever was. I marvel at her adaptability and the way she can adapt in countries where you don’t speak the language.”

“I feel more comfortable doing this (traveling overseas) than moving to Houston,” Elizabeth joked.

In Ecuador, she was amazed at the diverse ecological system — from the mountains to the beaches and the islands. In the town of Mindo, she could do hiking, zip lining and swimming in the waterfalls.

She also made friends with other students from Germany, Sweden and Iceland.

Looking back, she said, “Brazil is my favorite country by far. The people have a great attitude. In South America, people are more about enjoying life and more family oriented.”

In her new life in Houston, Mellen will be looking for a job in the oil industry or as a freelance interpreter.

“I would like to find a job that would let me travel and use my language skills,” she said.

Mellen is the youngest of five children; the others are Tom of Hamilton, Ohio, Dawn of Tampa, Fla., Alex of Houston and Chris of Dallas.

FYI

To learn more, visit the website http://www.unitedplanet.org

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Library shows after-school film

    April 23, 2014

  • Westville council reaffirms departments

    Village trustees approved Mayor Mike Weese's appointments for the next fiscal year which begins May 1.

    April 23, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    April 23, 2014

  • Committee OKs chicken ordinance research

    DANVILLE - A proposed chicken ordinance for the city already has its supporters. Resident Ed Strahl said he's more concerned about dangerous dogs than chickens. "I don't see much wrong with it (chickens in residents' backyards), if contained right,"

    April 23, 2014

  • New arrest in Friday's triple shooting DANVILLE -- Police have made a second arrest as part of the investigation into a triple shooting last week. Joquin Washington, 19, of Danville, was booked at the Public Safety Building jail around 9:20 p.m. Monday on preliminary charges of aggravated

    April 23, 2014

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include: Danville Sunday: Domestic battery along East Main Street. Disorderly conduct in the 900 block of East Madison Street. Property damage in the 500 block of Highland Park Road. Monday: Retail theft at Mach 1, 510 N.

    April 23, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls: Friday, 9:23-9:36 a.m. -- A carbon monoxide check in the 1300 block of Harmon Street. Friday, 11:50 a.m.-12:08 p.m. -- An illegal burning in the 1600 block of North Gilbert Street. Friday, 12:28-12:45 p.

    April 23, 2014

  • Fire destroys mobile home DANVILLE -- A leaf fire cost a local man his home Tuesday afternoon west of Danville. A total of seven fire departments, led by Kickapoo Fire Protection District, responded to an out-of-control leaf fire at 16930 Vermilion River Lane. Kickapoo Assist

    April 23, 2014

  • shoes1.jpg Men urged to 'walk in her shoes' at fundraiser TILTON — To understand the issue of sexualized violence against women, men need to take a walk in their shoes — both figuratively and literally.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kindergarten pre-registration set

    April 22, 2014 2 Stories

E-edition
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County
Must Read