University of Pittsburgh | JohnstownHeinz Programming Area:
Kaitlyn Pawlowski spent five weeks immersing herself into the language and culture of the Dominican Republic. She began her program in Santiago, the country's second largest city, before journeying to Santo Domingo, La Romana, Puerto Plata and Jarabacoa. While abroad, Kaitlyn stayed in an amazing homestay that became like family and welcomed her into their home in future adventures to the Dominican Republic. During the week, she walked to Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra or PUCMM for her communication, grammar and culture courses. In addition to attending classes Monday through Thursday, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to go on weekly excursions. Some of her most memorable excursions included: touring the house of The Mirabal Sisters, walking through ‘La Cueva de Las Maravillas’ or The Cave of Wonders, riding horses for the first time in Jarabacoa and taking a yacht to Saona Island, where she got to spend the day at the beach and swim with ‘estrellas del mar’ or starfish. During her free time in the Dominican Republic, Kaitlyn explored the surrounding beaches of Santiago, rode the cable car of Puerto Plata, visited various museums and galleries and frequented local restaurants and shops where she got to practice her Spanish with locals. Kaitlyn enjoyed learning the culture of the Dominican Republic and bettering her Spanish speaking skills. Ultimately, Kaitlyn wants to return to the Dominican Republic to continue to immerse herself into the culture and to explore the remainder of the island.
CEE Title: Step Out: Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
Our Community Engagement Experience consisted of four segments. We began our CEE with an interactive segment where we asked a series of questions. These questions ranged from common to more risky questions. After each question, we asked the members of our audience to step into a box if the questions applied to them. The purpose of this segment was to get the members of the audience out of their comfort zone, to step into these boxes and realize that they are not alone; to not judge a book by its cover, because you may have more in common than you initially thought. The segment focused on diversity but also similarities and inclusion.
Our second segment transitioned into our guest speaker Dr. Shawn Brooks, Vice President of Student Affairs. He discussed the reasons behind our actions and why people tend to react from a place of anger and fear instead of from a place of kindness and intelligence. The purpose of this segment was to open the minds of the individuals who attended our CEE to the idea that we want to break down the wall that we build up that causes us to react from that place of anger and fear and to address situations from that kind and intelligent place.
Our third segment was an informative section on how to resolve conflict and how to effectively communicate. We began this section by providing a set of guidelines or steps on how to effectively resolve conflict. We transitioned into how to effectively communicate, both when speaking and listening. We ended this segment with discussing different communication barriers, such as: poor listening and close mindedness. The purpose of this segment was to provide the necessary tools for our audience to be able to handle situations of conflict.
Finally, we wrapped up our CEE with another interactive segment on how to be an active bystander. We began discussing what a bystander is and what it means to be an active bystander. We began discussing different scenarios we were in where we were a bystander. Then as a group, we discussed how the situations were handled, how they could have been handled differently and when to intervene. The purpose of this segment was to create awareness of the bystander effect and to provide the necessary insight into how to be an active bystander to stop situations of injustice.