Javan Tate is an aspiring Psychologist from the United States. She recently completed a Psychology Internship in Peru with Intern Abroad HQ where she helped teach and mentor local children. Javan shares her experience on what it was like adapting to a new culture while putting her studies into practice…
What was it like settling into the first week of your internship?
The first week was extremely humbling and insightful. I assumed it would be overwhelming since I arrived in Cusco only knowing a little bit of Spanish, but everyone was very patient and understanding of the language barrier, which made me more confident in what I did know, and patient with what I did not. I quickly learnt that mistakes and bold risks were necessary for my growth.
At my internship placement, there was a lot of multiculturalism. Everyone came from different backgrounds and collectively spoke both Spanish and English. Seeing such a diverse range of people, particularly women, working together to teach Peruvian children English, was amazing and inspiring.
What were your main tasks as a Child Psychology intern?
During my Child Psychology internship, I helped teach English to Spanish-speaking students. I also introduced activities to help the kids with hygiene consciousness and personal growth, ranging from brushing teeth and exercising regularly, to reading and coloring. By doing this, I was able to provide my supervisors with advice on how to handle specific children who may have needed special attention, and the supervisors had the opportunity to apply my advice to current and future children.
How did this internship support your career goals?
I’m currently studying Psychology, so being on site allowed me to apply learned theories and developmental skills to the children first hand. I was able to interact with them in various ways; through academics as they were intellectually challenged by learning English, and through activities, as they participated in creative games established by the volunteers. This experience has allowed me to explore a whole new perspective on how psychology is applicable to youth.
What problem solving was required during your internship?
One problem I encountered during my internship was dealing with the sometimes negative attitudes of the children at my placement. While most of the children were cooperative, there were a few who did not get along with each other and acted out in aggressive ways which disrupted the other children’s learning process. While this was indeed a challenge at first, it forced me to think more rationally and fairly about where this behavior stems from, and what methods could be used to prevent it from happening again. I consider these challenges great learning experiences that have helped prepare me for my future career.
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What are your favorite memories and takeaways?
My favorite memory from my internship was playing soccer with the children at my volunteer site. They were so outgoing, funny, polite and passionate about the sport. As someone who was much older than they were, watching their extremely strategic footwork was so interesting. Playing with the children every day was exhausting but so rewarding!
I now feel more appreciative of what I have and more ambitious to do what I want. I feel more empowered and understand that there is a real need for people like myself in the field of Psychology, and I know now there are people willing to listen to me. I never felt as though I needed to be heard or needed to be direct with my actions, because I never expected others to listen or care. In Peru, I was put in positions that forced me to use my voice for others to hear; others being the children. Not only did those children listen, but they responded with positive feedback and made me feel more confident about myself.
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Any advice for future interns?
One piece of advice I’d suggest for future interns heading into culturally diverse settings is to not be discouraged when adjusting to a new culture. There were many times I lacked confidence when adjusting to the culture of Peru and was hard on myself. I learned that you’re meant to make mistakes and learn from them - that is the process of growing. Also, don’t compare yourself and level of knowledge to other individual’s, because you did not start at the same place they did. Confidently make mistakes and be easy on yourself. Be reasonable with the type of internship you sign up for and have grace on what you do and do not know.
How can I get started?
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