Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014
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Gain global experience by working in another country. International internship opportunities are available for a variety of majors and concentrations. Check with your advisor to see if your course of study grants credit for internship experience. Before applying for an international internship, you will need the approval of your advisor and faculty support. For more information, please see the Director of the Office of International and Intercultural Programs.
Virginia Wesleyan students may apply for the one-year study and internship programs (SIP) in Germany, offered by the German consortium of Seven Universities of Applied Science (UAS7) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Any Virginia resident or student attending a Virginia University may apply for an internship through the JMU International Internship Program.
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As a Spanish and International Studies major, I jumped at the opportunity to teach English in Bolivia when invited by Professor Mavel Velasco. The political and social scene would be a riveting experience for anyone. I had the opportunity to watch President Evo Morales, the first indigenous president in South America, play soccer in a school gymnasium-something I doubt I would ever see here in the United States (imagine President Bush playing soccer at your local high school gym without the media present).
I taught English in the mornings and explored La Paz, Bolivia's capital, in the afternoons. One of those afternoons, I walked with my son (he rode his scooter) an hour and a half from the suburb where I lived and taught, into the city because there had been a transportation strike. What an awesome and inspiring sight to see people in the streets protesting the route change that would cause many drivers to lose money they would earn on the previous routes. Stubborn drivers who did not take part in the strike would have to stop at the human barricades in the streets, get out and take a light, almost playful beating with a stick. Those who did not stop would drive away with either broken windows or flat tires for disrespecting the participants.
On the weekends I would travel to the different provinces of Bolivia- it is amazing how in one country, you can be in the capital with the highest altitude in the world looking at snow covered mountains from a rooftop of a building one day, and the next, be in a jungle town in the mountains or in a river that flows off the Amazon, counting alligators and capybaras on the bank. On longer school breaks, we went to visit the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru and Arica, Chile, a port town formerly part of Bolivia (lost in a war which still embitters the Bolivian people today).
One of the most important things about going on this trip was being able to bring my five year old son. Some people offered their unsolicited advice about traveling with children, especially in a "third world country when in fact; I found that the people from Bolivia, Peru and Chile make travel with children even less complicated than in the United States (there aren't any child portions or child fares, he just doesn't pay). He attended the bilingual kindergarten, picked up the language he was so eager to speak when he heard all of his new friends speaking and found a passion for soccer. I did not have a choice but to practice and improve my Spanish and I fell in love with a place I had never thought of visiting. I cannot imagine not going back to visit again because I felt like I belonged there, the people made my son and I feel like we were home.