Chelsea Sundy

Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
Home Institution: 
University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg
Heinz Programming Area: 
Children, youth, and Families
Study Abroad Country: 
International Experience

Chelsea spent seven weeks of her summer studying in Thailand. At Chiang Mai University, she took three courses. Through readings and lectures in her Cultural Foundations of Thai Society class, she was able to see how the monarchy, traditional values, and tourism affect the structure of today’s Thai society. Chelsea continued to see how Thai society worked by visiting markets and temples and seeing how the people interacted. During a weekend homestay that this course provided, Chelsea got an even closer look at Thais’ home life. She noticed that social activity with neighbors, cleanliness, and food are huge components of the culture. Chelsea also discovered that Thais have very social lives, but often hide negative feelings in order to keep harmony amongst society. Another course Chelsea took was Introduction to Thai language. When going out, Chelsea would practice her Thai with the locals. Eventually, she was able to order food, bargain for lower prices, and have basic conversation with Thai sellers. Public Health in Southeast Asia was the final course that Chelsea participated in. Her interest with this course was to look at the structure of Thailand’s health system and see what type of programing was available to aid poor families. During a week-long excursion to Northeastern Thailand, Chelsea was able to look at community health development programs that were introduced to poor villages. By introducing integrating farming methods and educating families on the health risks of certain foods, the programs were able to help the villages. Though these programs did not increase the villagers’ incomes, the villagers’ overall health improved because they were aware of dangerous foods and had more diverse resources provided by their farms. During her free time, Chelsea would spend time trying new foods or going to markets with Thai and American students she had befriended, which gave her more self-confidence in her social skills. However, Chelsea also took time by herself to explore and reflect, giving her the courage and independence she hoped to have found during her international experience.

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