Sarah Stradling at Rome's famed Trevi Fountain

Language skills help ASU student earn prestigious internship in Milan

ASU senior Sarah Stradling got the chance of a lifetime, thanks to her Italian minor, when she was offered an internship with Expo Milano, the 2015 Universal Exposition hosted in Milan, Italy.

During the universal exposition, 140 countries will meet to discuss issues and innovations under the theme “Feeding the Planet.”

Stradling will work as a student ambassador, greeting and interacting with visitors from the USA Pavilion. These visitors will include top government officials, corporate executives and other guests from around the globe. She will also assist with cultural events and USA Pavilion activities.

The Italian program at Arizona State University played a large role in preparing Stradling for the experience.

“The Italian upper-division courses have a dual objective of increasing students’ knowledge of Italian society and its relationship to other cultures, as well as guiding them toward advanced proficiency in the language. Class time focuses on students using the target language, Italian, to articulate and analyze complex historical and cultural issues,” said Juliann Vitullo, associate professor of Italian and associate director of the School of International Letters and Cultures.

In summer 2012, Stradling spent three months teaching English as an au pair (domestic assistant) while living with a family in Sperlonga, Italy, and in fall 2013, she interned at the front office of the U.S. Embassy in Rome for another three months.

“I am constantly looking for ways to get back to Italy, so thought this internship would be a great opportunity,” she said.

Stradling credits her Italian language skills and cultural knowledge with giving her a competitive edge in obtaining the Expo Milano internship.

Vitulio agreed, stating, “One of the reasons that Sarah was selected as a U.S. student ambassador at the world’s fair in Milan is because of her high proficiency level in Italian. This is just one example of the additional academic and professional opportunities that are available to ASU students who become highly proficient in a second language."

With a concurrent major in global studies and political science, and aspirations to become a foreign service officer, Stradling is looking ahead.

“I will gain valuable skills from this once-in-a-life time experience which will benefit me in my future career plans,” she said.

“Studying and working abroad gives students experience in learning how to adjust their own communicative strategies to the social expectations of different cultural groups," Vitulio said. "It gives them more ease in traveling to and working in different cultures."

In addition to Italian, Stradling has also taken Turkish language courses through the Critical Languages Institute at ASU, and she said her skills in both languages will enable her to connect with international guests throughout the expo. In total, Stradling and her student ambassador peers speak 28 different languages including Italian, Arabic, French and Mandarin, all of which are taught in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Story written by Mikala Kass, communications intern for the School of International Letters and Cultures, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.