Student Testimonials: Reflections on an international internship
Name: Elizabeth Volkman, '09
Majors: Psychology and Spanish
Hometown: Albert Lea, MN
Position Title: Volunteer
Name of Company or Organization: ISLA: International Service to Latin America
In two to three sentences, please describe what your internship entailed.
We traveled to Jalapa , Nicaragua on a medical mission trip to serve the community members in the rural districts. We conducted public health surveys and worked with a team of doctors to conduct cervical cancer testing to the women of Jalapa .
Which country(ies) did your work take you to?
How did you find your internship?
Through email connections at St. Olaf
Why did you choose to intern abroad instead of domestically?
As a Spanish major, I knew that an international experience to a Latin American country would be most rewarding to my language studies. Furthermore, immersing oneself into a culture is an experience that everyone should have the opportunity to take.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work and live internationally?
Culture related classes- Spanish, Sociology: Global Interdependence, etc.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about interning internationally?
Language barriers are always a huge challenge. It also takes a lot of time to get used to a new culture. A lot of time is spent taking everything in and analyzing what you're learning. I definitely suggest spending at least a month in the country to get the best experience possible out of it.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
Learning about how fortunate we are here in the United States . When I came back I realized all of the things I had been taking for granted. International work and travel, especially with underpriveledged populations, helps you gain a whole new perspective on life.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
Being able to understand another's culture. If someone has had the opportunity to walk in another person's shoes from another culture, they are one-step closer to becoming a global citizen. In addition, awareness of the diversity in the world helps one become a global citizen.
What advice would you offer other students interested in interning internationally?
Take time to prepare and research for your trip, but be ready to be flexible.Back to student bio page>>