International Summer Internship Enables Assumption Student to Obtain Valuable Experience, Explore Different Culture
For Lynsey Schafer ’17, an occupational therapy major from Easthampton, MA, who never traveled beyond the U.S. border, this summer found her working as an intern in Bray, Ireland, at Festina Lente, an equestrian center. Festina Lente is a specialized center that offers equestrian education, including a therapeutic horse-riding program for children and young adults, many of whom have a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional and developmental disabilities such as Autism, cerebral palsy, and ADHD. The global internship provided Schafer an opportunity to spend some time abroad experiencing a different culture and also obtaining valuable experience in her pursuit of a degree in occupational therapy at Assumption.
As Schafer began exploring summer internship possibilities, she discovered “Connect-123,” an internship program that matches students with internships related to their studies and interests in various parts of the world. However, for Schafer, the decision to travel was not an easy one, and required a great deal of thought and consideration. “It took a long time for me to commit to branching out of my comfort zone and to do something that I have only dreamed about,” she said of taking her first international trip.
Schafer discovered that the risks of stepping outside of that comfort zone was both beneficial and worthwhile. “I have come to realize that occupational therapy requires you to be very creative, aware, and versatile,” she said. She is also grateful for the opportunity to see how much the clients she has been working with have benefitted from their work together. But her clients aren’t the only ones who are evolving: “I am learning new things every day,” she said, crediting the two therapists she has been working with on a daily basis for teaching her more about the impact of the field of occupational therapy.
Schafer also developed a better understanding of Autism by studying the specific behaviors of her clients. “Before this internship, I never truly realized just how broad the Autism Spectrum is,” she said. “We had many clients who were diagnosed with autism and not a single one was alike. Therefore, it is critical for us to put ourselves into the clients’ shoes and try our best to understand what they are feeling.”
When not working at the center, Schafer was busy Immersing herself in the Irish culture. Doing so only enhanced what Schafer calls “an incredible experience,” one in which she is proud of herself for taking. “You can fully engross yourself in a new culture just by walking down the streets and talking to locals!” she said. “The Irish culture is very interesting and there is always more to learn.”
After spending the summer in Ireland, she is already looking forward to her next traveling opportunity. “I have been served a little slice of what the world truly has to offer, and I want more!” she said. “This trip has been one of the riskiest and most exhilarating things that I have ever done. As cautious as I was going into this unfamiliar new home, I have come to love and familiarize myself with it.”
Assumption students interested in pursuing internship opportunities should contact the College's Career Development & Internship Center.
Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College