Introduction by Melanie Orama

Ciao! My name is Melanie Orama, and I am a first-year graduate student at the College of Charleston. I am working towards my Master of Science in Child Life to become a certified child life specialist. Child life is a field that advocates for children during their most vulnerable times. It serves to create an environment that helps children have the most positive experiences possible as they endure hospitalization, illness, grief, and loss. I have selected the CofC in Italy Psychology study abroad program and will partake in a course titled: International Experiences in Child Life and Pediatric Psychosocial Care. This international experience will enhance my cultural competence, and I will see first-hand the importance of diversity and inclusion. I will be interacting with patients and families that speak a different language, driving me to enhance my skills in nonverbal communication. Through this course, I will acquire skills in providing appropriate and creative play activities and interventions for patients and children of various ages.

I chose this study abroad program because I have experienced the difficulties of diversity in healthcare. I come from an immigrant family, so growing up in an English-dominant country posed challenges, especially in healthcare. During this study abroad program, I will have the opportunity to engage in community outreach and interact with patients and families. My personal goals are to understand more about the effects of diversity and inclusion within the healthcare system and apply these learned skills to my future work. As a child who underwent language barriers within the community, school, and healthcare, I hope to impact healthcare positively in my future career. This experience will make me better prepared for the field, and I will be better suited for the profession. I intend to discover novel ways to become a successful child life specialist and apply these learned skills to my future work and life. From my research, Italy does not have an equivalent profession to child life in the hospital setting. However, my fellow graduate students and I hope to implement therapeutic activities in both the community and hospital for future advocacy of children’s psychosocial needs.

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