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
  • Turtle Reunion T-shirts still for sale DANVILLE — The results from the 50th and Final Turtle Club Reunion, “The Last Lap,” despite the weather, are totaled.The results show a preliminary profit to be given away of $6,598.There still are 50th Anniversary T-shirts for sale to raise that amo

    August 20, 2014

  • New businesses coming to Danville DANVILLE — Two new businesses are joining the city’s North Vermilion Street and Gilbert Street lineups.Mattress Firm will be joining the strip mall in front of Kohl’s and next to Cellular One on North Vermilion Street.While TitleMax will be going int

    August 20, 2014

  • NWS-CN 08-20 Stones photo Veterans' graves may get new stones DANVILLE — A local group wants to make sure veterans do not become "unknown soldiers," due to worn stones at Spring Hill Cemetery.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council OKs property, machine purchases DANVILLE — Mayor Scott Eisenhauer declared a vacancy in an aldermanic seat on the city council in Ward 7 at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black resigned from the city council after being appointed to serve as a trustee on

    August 20, 2014

  • Community briefs DANVILLERoads closed for workDanville officials announce micro-surfacing of Denmark Road and East Voorhees / Lynch is scheduled to begin this week. Depending upon weather, the schedule for the work is: • Today – northbound Denmark Road from Winter to

    August 20, 2014

  • CRIS diabetes program set

    August 19, 2014

  • Photographer’s work on view

    August 19, 2014

  • Covington approves bleacher project at the city park

    Kelli Pinkerton told city council members Monday the city park’s four youth sports clubs are willing to donate $250 each for new concrete pads and bleachers at the city park.

    August 19, 2014

  • Georgetown council considers park improvements

    Aldermen heard a request Monday from resident Linda Clarey about the possibility of constructing an announcement stand on the concession stand at the park for the Georgetown Youth Football League.

    August 19, 2014

  • Fire Calls |Firefighters responded to the following calls: Saturday, 11:05-11:43 a.m. — A natural gas leak at 7 Nicklas St. Saturday, 2:38-3:09 p.m. — A false alarm at Danville High School, 202 E. Fairchild St. Sunday, 1:36-1:49 a.m. — A medical call in the 1200

    August 19, 2014

E-edition
Spring 2014 Photos


Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes Lunch Bus Delivers Meals to Kids Out of School Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson Independent Autopsy Reveals Michael Brown Wounds Nashville Embraces Motley Crue Obama: 'Time to Listen, Not Just Shout' Lawyer: Gov. Perry Indictment a 'Nasty Attack' Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Iowa Man Builds Statue of a Golfer Out of Balls Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women'
NDN Video
Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Serious Flash Flooding in Arizona Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS Damaging Winds Stop the Show! In the Cockpit of the Air Force's Elite Squadron Pathologist: Autopsy Shows Teen Repeatedly Shot Christina Aguilera Has a Baby Girl Marvel Fans: Watch Dancing Baby Groot Over and Over! Raw: Protesters, Police Clash in Ferguson Gov. Rick Perry responds to indictment Breaking: Officials release name of police officer in Ferguson shooting Man Shot As Protesters Defy Curfew in Ferguson Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Back Together for Two ‘Secret’ Dates
Must Read