Sarina Welsh’s Journey Through the New Global Communication and Italian B.A.

My name is Sarina Welsh and I’d like to share my experience with the Global Communication and World Languages (Italian Track) B.A. program. In this new major, students pursue fluency in a chosen language while infusing their course of study with communication theory and research. Coming into college, I had an interest in Italian because of an exchange program that I took part in when I was in high school. Initially, I wasn’t sure how this interest could tie into my future career, but I was able to take classes and find opportunities that tied both Italian and Communication together.

When I first came to Chapman, I declared Communication Studies as my major. However, I missed speaking Italian and the Italian culture so I decided to take more Italian classes. I took a language test since I already had some proficiency in Italian and after speaking with Professor Pacchioni, I was able to take advanced Italian classes. Some of the classes I took were Business Italian, Italian Literature, and a class about Italian immigration. While I was able to improve and practice speaking and writing in Italian, these classes also gave me a better understanding of Italian culture and history.

Sarina with her students at Higher Ground

In 2018, the Global Communication and World Languages major was created. I switched into this major in order to integrate my Communication classes with my Italian classes. This switch in major also gave me space to add a minor in Leadership Studies. While I was trying to figure out what I can do with my major and my passion once I graduate, I had the opportunity to create an Individual Study course with Professor Pacchioni. For this individual study, I taught a course at Higher Ground, an after school program for kids at risk in Anaheim. The course I developed was about Italian Food and Culture. I created lesson plans, activities, and games to introduce the kids to the Italian language. The children I taught ranged from second to fifth grade. I really enjoy cooking during my free time, especially Italian food, and I wanted to share this hobby with the students in my Higher Ground class. I thought cooking would be a fun way to introduce them to the Italian culture and I integrated a few activities where I taught them how to make risotto and cannolis. It was very fulfilling to see how much the kids learned throughout the semester and it gave me insight into teaching as a possible career path.

I am originally from Bangkok, Thailand and during the summer before my senior year, I went back home. I used this time to decide if I wanted to go back to Thailand after I graduate or stay in America. While I was back in Thailand that summer, I got an internship at the Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce. I was the assistant to the Deputy Secretary-General and my role was to coordinate and assist Italian companies that came to develop businesses in Thailand. I also acted as an interpreter during meetings when needed. This was hard and frustrating for me at times but I’m also glad I did it because I was able to challenge myself and use Italian in a business context, which is something I’ve never done before. Through this experience, I was also able to grow my resume and gain new skills and experiences.

Sarina during her summer internship in Thailand

During my time at the Italian Chamber of Commerce, I was able to truly see the different ways cultures communicate and how culture affects the dynamics and conversations, especially in a work environment. It reminded me of all the concepts and theories I learned in my Communication classes such as high/low context cultures and the different power distances in each culture. Besides practicing my Italian language skills with Italian business people, I was also able to have conversations with them about various topics. I was able to apply what I learned in my Italian classes about Italian history and culture. It was an eye-opening experience and it reaffirmed why I chose to major in Global Communication and World Languages in the first place. This experience really bridged my Communication and Italian courses.

Throughout my years at Chapman and thanks to the constant support of my family and professors, I was able to do an internship in Marketing Strategy for Fondazione Italia, do a travel course in Sicily, study abroad in Rome, tutor Italian on campus, and intern at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West. I also helped coordinate our upcoming annual event on campus called Italian Perspective with this year’s focus on Italian food and culture. Having specific knowledge about a culture and language, and knowing how to communicate with people from different cultures have been valuable skills that others have sought after.

The connections I have made while studying Global Communication and World Languages have opened up many opportunities for me. I am currently thinking about working in Italy because I have enjoyed my experiences at my previous internships and because I feel prepared to function in that culture. I am also thinking about staying in America and working for an Italian company or perhaps going back to work at the Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce.

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