“It's been great to finally be able to travel”
Alayna Peterson, a social work major who spent nine weeks living and
working in Dublin
“It was amazing, making connections with the students who come in,
and having them open up to see the things that they go through,” said Peterson.
“This experience really showed me how much I love working with people
who are in need. It’s definitely showing me what a social work job
will look like.”
When she first arrived at Poppintree, Peterson said the children
wanted to know more about her and American culture than worry about homework.
Some assumed she was from Los Angeles and knew plenty of celebrities.
Peterson had to pull out a map and show them where Michigan is and its
relationship to Ireland.
“The kids bombarded me with questions about America,” she said. “They
wanted to know if I’ve ever been to Target or Walmart, what
Chick-fil-A tasted like. They had a million questions and assumptions,
some of which were true, and some of them I was like, ‘What? No!’
“It was funny, hearing all of their questions. And, they made fun of
my accent a lot.”
Sam Antenucci spent his internship in the heart of Dublin with the
accounting firm Devaney & Durkin.
In Dublin’s city center, psychology senior Erin Mangan interned at
the Gillan Lab at Trinity College, uncovering the complexities of the brain.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College sits in the
heart of Dublin, enveloped by the city’s busy streets. Tourists flock
to the cobblestoned campus in the summer to see the Old Library’s Long
Room and home to a piece of Ireland’s historical and cultural
identity, the Book of Kells.
Mangan was the lone American amongst an international cohort of
interns in the Gillan Lab, studying the brain’s neurodiversity.
Working alongside European and Asian colleagues was one of the reasons
she was thrilled to find an international internship, Mangan said.
“It’s very interesting to see their perspectives on issues, and that
itself has been very eye-opening, especially in the psychology field,”
she said. “I wanted to open myself up to new experiences and perspectives.”
Living abroad was one of those new experiences for Mangan and her
roommate, senior Isabel Wychuyse. The two shared accommodations at a
student living center, Heyday Carmen’s Hall, which is situated in The
Liberties, one of Dublin’s oldest and most culturally vibrant neighborhoods.
Wychuyse interned at a clinic in Bray, a suburb southeast of Dublin,
helping adults with complex needs and developing occupational therapy,
physical therapy and speech therapy.
“For me, the internship really opened my eyes to being independent,
the cultural experiences and learning how to live in a different
country,” Wychuyse said.
“It teaches you to be adaptable. Doing an internship hands-on, you
get to work in a cross-cultural experience. It helps with networking
and building your professional development.”
There was one hurdle in getting her from Allendale to Dublin. A
first-generation college student, Wychuyse lacked the resources to
study and intern overseas.
Through the help of the Padnos International Center and the Center
for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement, Wychuyse identified which
internships would help her academic and professional growth and
applied for scholarships to help with the financial cost.
She was one of three GVSU students this year to receive the U.S.
Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.
Just 3,000 U.S. college students are selected each year for a Gilman Scholarship.