Eileen Leaser

Graduate Student
A.T. Still University

After studying abroad in Italy for a summer, I caught the “travel bug.” After graduating from the University of Arizona, I backpacked through Europe for a summer. In Italy, my Italian skills were extremely useful for conversing, reading signs and menus, and for immersion into the Italian culture. Italian also helped me to figure out some signs and menus in both Spanish and French. Contrary to popular belief, Italian did not only prepare me for my time in Italy, it also gave me the opportunity to become more culturally competent overall. Through learning about Italian culture, I learned the kinds of questions to ask others, and the types of assumptions not to make about different cultures. I also learned that experiencing a culture is very different from learning about one. I am currently finishing my graduate program in Occupational Therapy, where cultural competence is an important part of becoming a successful clinician. My current clinical rotation is in a Title I school filled with diverse children from a wide variety of backgrounds. Learning Italian and then submersing myself in the culture both when studying abroad, and traveling abroad, has helped me to become a more culturally competent person for my current and future clients.