Karina Domenech '20 Selected for Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
The psychology major and neuroscience minor will spend next year in Germany for intensive language study and professional internship experience.
The first time Karina Domenech '20 ever left her home in Puerto Rico to visit somewhere outside the United States, it was for a two-week trip to Germany following her high school graduation. While there, she fell in love with the country’s language, people, and culture. While at Haverford, the psychology major and neuroscience minor also studied German, eager to return to Germany with improved communication skills. Now, as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), she will get her chance.
CBYX is an immersive exchange program offered jointly by the German and American governments that allows students and young professionals from each country to study and train in the other. The program—which funds international travel to Germany, housing costs, language school tuition, program-related travel within Germany, as well as a monthly stipend—is unique in that it offers both language instruction and real-world work experience over the course of an academic year.
Domenech will arrive in Germany at the end of July and begin two months of intensive language instruction before embarking on a semester of academic classes related to her career interests and starting a three-to-five-month internship in her field.
“What I am most excited for is to engage in the cultural-exchange aspect of the program,” she said. “From my understanding of the program, I will be living in a small town. Since small towns tend to be more close-knit and culturally traditional, it would provide more access to connecting with the community and immersing myself deeply in their culture.”
Since graduating from Haverford, Domenech has explored a host of professional opportunities in Puerto Rico from working for the Census Bureau and shadowing a neuroscientist to starting her own community service organization, EduKrea en comunidad, which offers psychoeducational workshops in low-income communities. She is planning to become a pediatric clinical psychologist, and hopes to learn more about how that field is practiced and supported in Germany during her upcoming year abroad.
“My goal is to keep expanding my knowledge in Germany and gain different cultural perspectives on development and psychology to, then, bring back to my practice in Puerto Rico,” said Domenech. “The reason I want to practice clinical psychology in P.R. is because the island is in a precarious state due to the mounting debt, hurricanes, the pandemic, etc. Particularly, mental healthcare is one of the most affected areas, with a lack of personnel and funds to pay professionals, thus leaving those who are in need to suffer. Additionally, around 60% of children live in poverty, and, therefore, there are high levels of depression, anxiety, and developmental problems among Puerto Rican children. I am determined to use my gained knowledge to develop an accessible center of developmental and psychological services for these children.”