A Princeton junior shadowed doctors in rural areas and tested for malaria in Ghana. A sophomore drafted a report on the challenges faced by Roma children in Italy. A senior conducted consumer interviews for a market-research group in China.
These students were among 180 Princeton undergraduates who took part during the summer in the University’s International Internship Program (IIP), working five to eight weeks in one of 44 countries.
“This is one of the easiest and most rewarding and productive ways to have an experience abroad,” said program director Luisa M. Duarte-Silva. The opportunity for international networking has been especially valuable to students, she said.
The program began in 2000 with seven interns. With the University in recent years encouraging all students to spend time in another country, the internship program has expanded and offers a special attraction for those who would have difficulty spending a semester abroad, such as athletes and engineers.
Allison Behringer ’12, a sociology major who is a member of the field hockey team, held two internships: in 2010 at an orphanage in India, and this summer teaching at a primary school in South Africa. “Training in a foreign country has been a challenge,” Behringer said. “I’ve incorporated field hockey into my work, which helped me keep a stick in my hands and hopefully also provided a fun, productive activity for the kids.”
Alex Banfich ’12, a history major and a three-season varsity athlete (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track), taught lessons in English to young children as part of Princeton in France. Her internship offered a chance to learn “not only about French culture, but about myself,” she said. “Unlike my friends that did study-abroad programs through various universities, IIP students have a very independent status.”
All interns receive a stipend from the University intended to cover lodging, meals, and local transportation; students on financial aid receive additional funds to cover airfare. Endowed funds support more than half the budget, with 25 programs and departments providing financial and other forms of assistance for their concentrators, Duarte-Silva said.
The program has a strong alumni connection, Duarte-Silva said. “About 30 percent of our students are hosted by alumni in their organizations or companies, and many more [alumni] host them as guests in their homes,” she said.
Rebecca Metzner ’83, an analyst with the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, described the contributions of Princeton interns as “a marvelous gift.”