PERUGIA, Italy — Sarah Fuller is pursuing her undergraduate degree at Elizabethtown College, with the aim of achieving a career in international education. In the fall of 2015, her studies allowed her to study abroad in Perugia, Italy at the Umbra Institute, where she explored intercultural education theory and gained hands-on teaching and research experience. Sarah is now back at Umbra to participate in a semester long internship at the Università per Stranieri and research project at the Umbra Institute.
The goal of Sarah’s internship at Stranieri is to introduce her to the diverse activities of the university’s International Relations Office, while also researching refugee education policies and the refugees’ ability to integrate into Italian society. The internship offers both practical and reflective activities; the former allowing Sarah to work on-site, and the latter offering in-class discussion time focusing on topics such as cultural conflict resolution or integration. “As of now, I have been introduced to the office with a focus on US to Italy relations,” said Sarah as she explained the projects she will be working on this semester. “However, next week I will start working on more relevant projects, specifically those dealing with immigration policies and the organization of different cultural events.”
The Università per Stranieri receives numerous students from around the world, holding various citizen to refugee statuses. The International Relations Office deals with the promotion of the institution’s internationalization policy through the management of student and professor mobility; promotion; and the coordination of national and international cooperation agreements, support for the University’s international events, and the management of its many international programs such as ERASMUS and Marco Polo. “With the time and welcoming flexibility that Umbra provides, this personalized internship and international education opportunity serves as a great experience in the field that I hope to pursue in my graduate career.”
“Everyone here [in Italy] is open about their education and they have a common goal together to learn for the same purpose. Just seeing that is really unique,” shared Sarah in reflection both on her current semester at Umbra, and her previous study abroad experience. “I admire how seriously they [Italians] take their education. It has helped me more clearly define my goals for my future and recognize that I am part of a world, a community, that is much bigger than my home town.”