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Marguerite Keisling

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Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2016
Home Institution: 
Washington & Jefferson College
Heinz Programming Area: 
Arts & Culture
Study Abroad Country: 
Australia
International Experience

Marguerite Keisling spent 8 weeks interning in a law firm in downtown Sydney, Australia.  She studied with IES Abroad and took a class on multiculturalism in the workplace during her time there.  Marguerite’s focused area of interest was to see the differences of culture from a professional perspective and to observe the attitudes towards women in the workplace.  She also intended to note the differences between the judicial and legal systems in Australia that are not the same in US America; her internship with a solicitor allowed her to do so.  She spent every minute she could outside of the office exploring the many cultural, historical and artistic entities that Sydney has to offer including art museums, historical landmarks and national parks.  She marveled at the botanical gardens and the great design of Jorn Utzon’s Opera House, and danced with the aborigines.  She learned that aboriginal culture is still very much protected and alive; much like the way Native American culture is in the States.  In her class Marguerite studied the values of Australian life and the meaning of its differences from the rest of the world.  Marguerite began to understand that Australia is a promised land for equality, opportunity and independence.  

Community Engagement Experience
CEE Title: 
Self Advocacy in the Diverse Workplace

On November 30th 2016, a Community Engagement Event around “Self-Advocacy for Women in the Diverse Workplace” was held at Washington and Jefferson College.  This was held as a roundtable discussion with professional females as special guest speakers, all of whom teach at the College as well.  Speakers included Dr. Polvani of the Chemistry and Science department, Dr. Fifer of the political science department and Dr. Gai of the international relations and political science department.  The first half of the event focused on discrimination, gender biases, schemas and stereotypes, and multicultural workplace dynamics.  This was to help the audience understand the bias fully and to better know how to approach it in both action and speech.  Dr. Polvani’s speech included research into gender schemas and how they affect human perception.  Dr. Fifer discussed her experience in the bureaucracy as a young woman in a management position and ways she learned to advocate for herself through leadership.  Dr. Gai spoke about her academic journey towards achieving a Ph.D. as a Chinese immigrant.  These real life accounts of being a woman in today’s world provided a tangible substance to the conversation, and the speakers contributed to the discussion afterwards as well.  The discussion revolved around how to better empathize with people in these different roles and how to bridge the gap of communication.  Students and audience members discussed their personal experiences with bias and workplace diversity.  With one another they reasoned how to use listening techniques to connect with others in the workplace to build a more interconnected community and type of support system.  

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