Nia Shuler

International Experience Country:
South Africa
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Waynesburg University

Heinz Programming Area:
Study Abroad Country: South Africa Cohort Year: 2019 Home Institution: Waynesburg University Programming Area: Sustainability 
International Experience Summary:

As a Vira Heinz recipient, Nia traveled to Cape Town, South Africa for two months. In Cape Town, Nia took courses in Poverty and Development and Community Partnership. Through these courses she learned about the history of South Africa including the Apartheid. She also learned about the history of poverty in South Africa, types of poverty, types of Justice and decolonizing education. In addition to this she spent three days a week serving at Philippi Village which is a local non-profit organization, that served the Cape Flat communities. Through this she had the opportunity to work closely with ten members from Siyangena informal settlement. During her time at Philippi Village she worked to create an Art Exhibition that took place during her last week. The Art Exhibition was centered around the idea of making mountains of change in the Siyangena community.
The art exhibition consisted of upcycled art made of trash. All of the pieces, including the canvases, were made by the Siyangena community members. The art pieces were sold at the exhibition, and those proceeds went directly towards the community members. They were taught that they could create something of value out of trash and sell it to be able to sustain themselves and to help provide for their families. Through serving with the Siyangena community Nia was able to directly immerse herself into the Xhosa culture and community. She was able to learn about the daily struggles that informal settlements (including Siyangena) face. The struggles she learned about and witnessed herself were lack of running water inside their homes, no bathroom facilities and no trash disposal. She learned about the lack of support from the City of Cape Town government that informal settlements receive. Through cultural immersion Nia was able to gain an understanding of the deep political, economic and racial history of South Africa. She was also able to understand how that history currently effects the lives of many South African people including the Siyagena community and many other communities in the Cape Flats. Nia was able to form lifelong relationships with friends and most importantly learn about the importance of returning to home the Motherland (Africa).

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title:  The “We in Wellness”: A Global Approach to Wellness 

The Waynesburg University 2019 Vira Heinz Cohort hosted an interactive wellness fair with a variety of tables and stations. Our event “The We in Wellness”: A Global Approach to Wellness event was our opportunity to share with the campus community and the greater Waynesburg community what we learned and experienced in the countries we studied abroad in. This event was our opportunity to provide students  and the community global perspectives on wellness to revitalize our community. We presented what we learned in our countries in terms of wellness and how we can incorporate those components into our lives. We presented topics from the aspects of the wellness wheel from an array of perspectives. The six of us discussed what wellness looked like in our six different host countries. We discussed how environmental health issues are addressed in Australia;  how women's health issues are addressed in India, in particular, domestic violence. We also discussed the indigenous sustainability practices and holistic remedies in Belize; alternative medicine practices in Costa Rica; community wellness in South Africa; and identifying “fatal foods” sold and consumed in the U.S. but banned in Europe.