International Travel Builds Perspective for Two Interns
When you look for learning opportunities or ways to expand your skills and broaden your knowledge base, it can be daunting to determine what is most valuable and where to spend your time. 

Two of Leadership Institute’s Spring 2019 interns decided they would spend time abroad in 2018. As you read about their experiences, see you can use international travel to broaden your skills.

Abbey Bongiorno, Leadership Institute’s Development program intern, spent the fall of 2018 studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain.

GrayceMcAllister, Leadership Institute’s International Training intern, spent the summer of 2018 interning abroad in Haifa, Israel.

Q. What did you learn in your study abroad?

A. Abbey: “I learned so much from my study abroad, I could write an entire trilogy. I have gained an unbelievable amount of independence -- even though my school was a ten-hour drive from home, being in another country is even further out of anyone’s comfort zone. Not only did I have to live and go to school with strangers, but I also had to speak a language that wasn’t my own.”

A. Grayce: “By interning in Israel, there were many experiences that challenged me, to see things through a new light. One of the first things I learned, is to explore and have an intuitive mind, open to discovery. Especially in Israel, there are many historical, Biblical, and current sites of great interest that await detection. 

“By interning for a company in Israel, I was able to learn business and interpersonal communication skills that would not have otherwise crossed my mind. It taught me to be more aware, observant, and eager to try new things. 

“Travelling internationally allows you to find out more about other places, but it also allows you to discover more about yourself, the interests you have, or challenge some of your preconceived ideas about other cultures.”

Q. What cultural differences struck you in your travels?

A. Grayce: “Israel was a fantastic place to visit and realize how awesome I have it here in the United States. Continually, we see there are many problems in the United States, but if we look at Israel, they are under a constant threat of being overtaken or attacked. 

“When I visited a Kibbutz near the Gaza border, the guide told us that the townspeople have seventeen seconds from time of missile launched to the time it lands. During this time, they must find shelter. Therefore, there are bomb shelters within close proximity to everything; but the item that struck me as most powerful is the attitude people have about the shelters.

“As you can see in the picture, Israelis enjoy where they live and would not change it. They look for the best in their situation and therefore, paint the bomb shelters to fit into the specific area of the town. That made me appreciate how safe I am here in the US and realize that when you can’t change the circumstances, your attitude is what counts.”

A. Abbey: “I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to study abroad. Many of my mentors told me the one thing they most regret in their lifetimes (not just their undergraduate career) was not studying abroad. 

“I met so many amazing people, learned about and lived in different cultures, and really grew to appreciate where I’m from. Spain itself has only had its current constitution for 40 years. Learning about the workings of another country’s laws was a real eye-opener.”