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International Experience: Jamaica and Japan

April 19, 2016

A blog post from SOLES MA in Counseling with specialization in School Counseling Ambassador, Natalie Crook:

As my time at USD is beginning to wind down, I look back at how much my life has changed (for the better!) over the last two years. I have been given opportunity after opportunity to become the best counselor I can be. Whether it is interning across the county or spending hours researching guidance lessons, I never thought I would have made it so far in such a short period of time. One of the most significant opportunities I have had during the Counseling program was the international requirement. I never could have imagined the experience that was to come. Throughout my two-year journey at USD, I have had the chance to travel abroad twice! The first opportunity was Jamaica, where we studied multicultural counseling and college and career counseling. The second opportunity was Japan, where we studied crisis and trauma interventions. Although both trips included the same professors and many of the same students, each experience was vastly different.

Japan

I should really start out by saying that I am not a traveler. Any application or awkward icebreaker that I have ever participated in that asked, “interest?” I always wish I could have written, “traveling!” But no, I am more of a “laying on the couch in my PJ’s” kind of girl. I just don’t think that response would get me a job! The point I am trying to make is that these adventures were far outside of my bubble. Between climbing waterfalls and snorkeling in Jamaica, to eating crazy foods and staying up way past my bedtime in Japan, these were all memories for the record book. But don’t get me wrong, although we were having plenty of fun, we were learning more than we could have ever learned in a textbook. During both trips we visited schools and worked with locals to better understand their education system, including their counseling services. We had the opportunity to work with high school students in Jamaica who were preparing for graduation and mapping out their hopes and dreams. We also were able to listen to community members of Fukishima tell their tales of survival after the strongest tsunami destroyed their town. Both journeys were life changing and, without USD, I don’t know if I would have been able to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.Jamaica

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