November 12, 2010 By Marie Zazueta
On October 21, I attended the Experiential Learning Expo, held in the Shapiro Campus Center. I talked to two different students who went abroad over the summer. Each had very different enriching and interesting experiences.
Shannon Festin ’12 is a Health: Science, Society and Policy major. For eight weeks over the summer, she interned with Las Damas Voluntaries at El Hospital Nacional de Los Ninos in San Jose, Costa Rica. Shannon found her internship through researching the AIDE website. She ultimately decided she wanted to go to Costa Rica for two reasons: to improve her Spanish skills and, more specifically, to explore why Costa Rica is known as having a health care system that is comparable to that of the United States.
She discovered that the reasons had to do with Costa Rica’s greater focus on health and education – not as much money goes to the military as is does in the U.S. From this experience, Festin realized that she wants to work in health care in her future career, particularly with marginalized groups and children. The children who she cared for in the hospital had a range of illnesses, from cancer to burns, as well as children with Down’s syndrome and other complications from birth. Festin decided to intern abroad rather than in the U.S. because she wanted to see another country’s health care system and study how a country’s culture impacts the health of its citizens. For example, according to Festin, Costa Rica is more “laid-back” than the U.S., as well as more focused on family and religion. It was interesting to her to explore the different ways in which these factors influence the health care system in that nation.
Chia Jorento ’11 is an English and Italian Studies double major. This past spring and summer, she lived in Siena, Italy. She studied abroad in the spring and then stayed on for the summer with Hiatt’s World of Work summer funding program. Jorento found this internship through her study abroad program, which had an internship component. For the summer, she stayed with the same organization she interned with during the spring semester. As someone with a strong interest in education, Jorento had an enriching experience teaching English to 3rd and 4thgraders. She prepared materials, worked with the kids to perform skits and scenes in English, and recorded language videos to help her students learn English. In her Brandeis classes, Jorento still has the opportunity to speak Italian regularly. Through this experience, Jorento had a change in life plans. She now knows that she wants to live abroad after graduation, preferably in Siena. She is passionate about education and hopes to teach long-term.
The Experiential Learning Expo was a great opportunity to see the work that other students have done while abroad. It was interesting to see how these experiences have influenced the career plans of these two presenters. Working abroad gives one the opportunity to be deeply involved in another culture, an experience that Brandeis students should not pass up.