Study Abroad Internships Provide an Opportunity to Make an Impact on the Lives of Others
Being a Part of the Change the World Needs Through Study Abroad Internship
By Darion Wu, University of Missouri
Every year, record-breaking numbers of students all across the world journey to a new world unexplored. Students are choosing to study abroad and take on the major challenge of being immersed in one’s culture. According to the Unesco’s Institute for Statistics, they’ve found that the number of study abroad students worldwide will keep increasing every year by about 12 percent. This growth fosters and showcases the curiosity of cultural encounters and growth in the knowledge through cross-cultural experiences. Whether you decide to explore the amazing Berca District of Italy or the beautiful villages of Bonsaaso, Ghana, studying abroad is an amazing experience that can hold memories that will last a lifetime.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to learn about a unique opportunity! During my undergraduate studies here at the University of Missouri, I joined an organization called AIESEC. Being in this Youth Leadership Development organization for one full year, I’ve been able to travel to 12 conferences, work to better build our network as a functioning member and National Trainer, find my purpose, and help facilitate exchange by showcasing the opportunities to make an impact here at the University of Missouri.
I want to share a story of Megan Kelly, a student at the University of Missouri, who traveled to Bursa, Turkey interning abroad to make an impact.
This is her story.
My study abroad experience started before I finished high school. A friend who was currently attending the University of Missouri told me about AIESEC and that she could help me go abroad the summer after I graduated. I jumped at the chance, I did not care where I went I just wanted to see something new, experience something different. I ended up in Bursa, Turkey for the Myself My World Project for 6 weeks. I worked with middle and high school students to improve their English soft skills and develop their leadership ability. I worked with 17 other interns from over 10 different countries. In addition to culture presentations we gave presentations on leadership, career options, and entrepreneurship helping to give back to the community. We also held music, dance, art, and theater activities for the students to help boost confidence and so that they could have an outlet for special talents. During the time I was in Turkey I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul and Cappadocia to get a better feel for the country and its fascinating history.
I knew I wanted to give other students the same opportunity I had, had. I have gotten to experience, and do so much more than I ever thought I would as a freshman. I am currently a project director with AIESEC and I am working with my University’s College of Education to establish partnerships and serve as a spokesperson to help student’s experience that same kind of adventure I had had in Bursa.
After talking about her experience, I asked Megan about her view on the world and how she dealt with her new environment in Bursa, Turkey. Megan says, “Their everyday life and outlook on life just gave me so much more than I expected.” “Overwhelmed with all these different perspectives and realizing that we all will never be in the same place helped me see that I couldn’t imagine myself without any of the people I met ever.” Megan was able to see that this experience, challenged her and gave her a new perspective on the impact that can truly be made.
I ended the interview by asking, “How has this internship impacted your life?” Megan says, “You sometimes are not able to recognize your impact until you take a step back.” I remember speaking with my friends during my internship and many of us were concerned that the students didn’t like us, or they weren’t getting anything out of the project we had put together. “But on the last day of camp we received notes from students inviting us to come back and stay with their families or asking to stay in touch.” “Receiving those notes and now e-mails has had a profound effect on my life.” Knowing that what I do impacts others, and can improve the lives of others is the best feeling ever.” It is not just the six week period of your internship that effects your life.” “Knowing that I have made a positive impact on even a handful of individuals has been a great achievement so far, seeing that the work I do can make a difference, realizing that I am capable of improving the lives of others.”
Megan serves as a true inspiration and individual who has chosen to take the challenge and experience something unknown. I challenge each and every one of you to be a part of the change the world needs.