Two of the many options that Honors students have to fulfill the experiential learning component of University Honors are studying abroad and completing an internship. But imagine if you could do both at the same time! You could have an internship in a country that is halfway across the world, and not only gain valuable work experience, but also experience a new culture. Does this sound like something you would enjoy? Read more about Nicole Nucaro’s experience interning in Jamaica during the summer of 2017 for more inspiration, and then you can look into a similar experience for yourself.
On May 13th, I packed up my dorm room, said goodbye to my freshman year friends and got ready to start my summer. Less than three days after leaving Iowa City, I was headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica to embark on one of the best experiences of my life. I had the opportunity to intern at a children’s home for a little over a month. While I could have easily stayed for the entire summer, I found that my time there was well spent.
My day started quite early. All of the interns got up to assist with breakfast, getting kids ready for school and simply the chaos every morning brought. Then off to school some went, others stayed behind and spent the day on-site. The daily schedule consisted of games, swinging, feeding, lots of screaming and laughter. I lived with, hung out with and was immersed in conversation with the kids and staff every moment of every day.
While I was there, I fell in love with the people, the culture and the experience itself. I found that being abroad by myself for the first time was a journey within itself. I learned more about myself in those four week than I ever had before. On the way to Jamaica, my flights were delayed, I ran through airports, missed a few flights and when I finally landed (9 hours late) my luggage was lost. Although I originally was nervous and anxious, the overall chaos just led to a greater sense of flexibility that came during those four weeks. Unlike most internships, I would say my experience was somewhat of a long term mission trip. My job wasn’t really to work or apply business skills. My job was to learn, to encourage, to love unconditionally and to be a role model for the 35 kids that looked up to me. That job description was one I hadn’t come across before.
I discovered that it was the smallest moments that made my experience spectacular. It was the mornings when a toddler would run up to me and grab my legs at 5:30 am and simply ask to be held and to be loved. It was the times when I told a six year “remember you’re priceless” and she asked me what I meant. It was when a kid told me they hated me, but my heart still loved them more than anything in the world. It was the nights I felt lonely while somehow surrounded by people. It was the times I wanted to call my family/friends back home and talk, yet couldn’t connect my phone. It was the long days spent at the beach with kids laying in my lap and building a castle. It was the nights spent with the teenage boys praying they would find a family. It was moments like these that meant more than I ever could’ve asked for.
Jamaica opened my eyes to a world I had only read about. I saw extreme poverty first hand, I met kids whose entire lives were spent at the orphanage and I met staff that had dedicated their lives to helping others. I left the comforts of my air-conditioned, high-speed internet home with parents,siblings and friends for a lifestyle far outside of my own. I found myself enthralled by the idea of defining the idea of home, what it meant to truly love someone without strings attached and I further examined the notion of happiness. I realized while I was there, that the kids could teach me a lot about life– maybe even more than I could teach them.
Written by: Nicole Nucaro, Honors Student
Nicole Nucaro is a sophomore at the University of Iowa currently majoring in Business and Social Work. She is involved in the Honors Program, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Kappa Psi and Best Buddies. Her favorite hobbies are travelling, writing and hanging out at coffee shops. While at Iowa, Nicole has participated in undergraduate research, served as an ambassador for the honors program and is currently studying abroad in Prague.
Edited by: Chloe Sekhran, Blog Manager