Ariel DeFrank

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Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Bradford

Heinz Programming Area:
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International Experience Summary:

As a Vira I. Heinz recipient, and first-time international traveler, Ariel ventured outside of her comfort zone to Tanzania for six weeks. Here, she studied the language, culture, and health problems the nation faces. She stayed on a college campus in Iringa living amongst the native students, making adjusting to her temporary home much more tolerable. Ariel had the opportunity to partake in instructed off-campus site visits 2-3 times per week to adhere a tangible aspect to the content of their courses. Site visits included a trip to a local AIDS clinic, a local orphanage, and visits to multiple parts of a water treatment and filtration system that serves one village, and many more. Although Ariel was in Tanzania heavily based on the health aspect of those specific courses, she found herself much more enthralled in the cultural whirlwind. She took particular interest in and began researching the traditional culture of marriage and relationships, such as dowry and ownership, and comparing them to the current Tanzanian culture that she was experiencing. Using this, she analyzed the power difference and between men and women of the country. Ariel spent long hours out in the town interacting and making friends with locals. Although she loved meeting the strangers, the best friends Ariel met on her journey are the students of the college she stayed at. The American students and Tanzanian students took time daily to have volleyball tournaments, study together, and most importantly, share their cultures. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Through a Broken Lens: Exploring Stereotypes

Our CEE was entitled “Through a Broken Lens: Exploring Stereotypes.” Our CEE was a presentation style that included audience participation through discussion. We started the presentation with the definition of “stereotype.” We progressed into the ways that we form stereotypes, examples of stereotypes that American’s have toward other countries, stereotypes that other countries have towards American’s, and then stereotypes that American’s have toward other American’s. The presentation continued with discussion about stereotypes in Denmark. This included talk about sex workers and prisoners. We then advanced to Thailand stereotypes that included discussion on people of color and immigration to their country. Tanzania was next in discussion where trophy hunting was the stereotype topic. All stereotypes that were discussed were in comparison to American views. Our CEE was wrapped up with the effects that stereotypes have on people such as career opportunities, and ways that we can all challenge our own stereotypes. We included pictures from our experiences abroad as support for the conversations. After our presentation there was time allowed for questions and further discussion, which was utilized by audience members to inquire on things such as Vira. I Heinz Program requirements along with our favorite experiences abroad.