Emily Hayes spent five weeks studying in Costa Rica while living with a host family, and one week in Cuba staying in classic Cuban apartments. In her host countries, she took classes in Elementary Spanish, Latin American Dance, and Cuban Culture/History. While she was abroad, Emily learned a lot about not only the subjects she was studying through the USAC Puntarenas program, but also about herself. Through keeping a detailed blog about her daily experiences and reflecting on her thoughts and feelings throughout her trip, Emily was able to document her growth and change throughout her time abroad. Despite being nervous and hesitant about entering a foreign country alone to stay with a new family, Emily was able to flourish in Costa Rica and make strong connections with other peers in the USAC program, her host family, local Costa Ricans ("Ticos", as they call themselves), and the faculty and staff at USAC. Although she did not enter the program with much knowledge of the Spanish language, after being immersed in Latin American countries for six weeks she developed enough skill to be able to communicate basic ideas, order at a restaurant, and have simple conversations with her Tico friends, who she loved spending time with on the beach at night around a bonfire. After having this opportunity, Emily now feels more confident in her leadership abilities and in herself to overcome problems and succeed in any challenges.
CEE Title: Cultural Competency & Ethical Dilemmas: Developing Global Leaders
The Carlow University team created a one-night event for students to learn about cultural competency in the workplace, entitled “Cultural Competency & Ethical Dilemmas: Developing Global Leaders”. We started out the evening by welcoming passing individuals, both those who intended on attending our CEE and those who did not, to participate in a quick survey about culture. We gave each person four stickers and allowed them to place them in the categories on a chart which they thought best defined culture. The categories included: ability status, gender identity, race, work experience, education level, geographic background, language, socioeconomic status, political views, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and personal essence. Then, we welcomed individuals into Kresge Theatre to get some refreshments, find a seat, and write on a notecard their personal definition for “cultural competence”. After everyone was seated and finished with their definitions, we began our presentation. We started with introductions of ourselves and our involvement with VIH, then moved on to defining culture and cultural competence. We taught attendees how to achieve cultural competence, and then after about a 10 minute presentation, we broke into groups for discussion. In our roundtable discussion groups, we got to know the individuals at our tables, then we chose out of about 10-15 different scenarios of ethical dilemmas in the workplace. We spent about 25 minutes at the roundtables, engaging in deep and enriching conversation. At the end of that, we came back together as a group to share insights from our conversations. It was a highly successful night and I feel like we effectively engaged students and prompted them to think critically and thoughtfully about each scenario.