Kara Murphy

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Carlow University

Heinz Programming Area:
Children, Youth, and Families
International Experience Summary:

Kara Murphy is a social work major at Carlow University, and she spent six and half weeks in the city of Heredia, Costa Rica, studying Spanish language and the cultural values surrounding family. She had three goals: to learn to execute authentic “small talk” with future Spanish-speaking clients, to learn about the value of family in Costa Rican culture, and to investigate the pura vida approach to life and how this affects access to services. She took a Spanish language class, a Latin American dance class, and a Latin American Cuisine class through the national university, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, where she spent her mornings and afternoons on campus practicing Spanish with Tico friends who attend the university. The evenings she spent with her family and their friends, having dinner and going out to dance: the Costa Rican method of spending quality time with loved ones. She learned about family as her host mother taught her more advanced salsa steps, and as her host father cooked for her his favorite Costa Rican dish, scrambled eggs fried with green beans. Family in Costa Rica loves deeply, through movement, food, and conversation filled with laughter. On her days off of class, she went with her mother to the municipal building to gather documents for her host brother’s house-building permits and learn about the bureaucracy that Costa Ricans experience. She learned that part of the pura vida lifestyle was not getting timely answers and waiting, calmly, for the answers to come to you when they willed. Oftentimes, the documents would come once she and her host mother were enjoying a conversation to pass the time. On the weekends, Kara would travel to different corners of the country, exploring the differences between urban and rural life. This allowed her to practice her Spanish in different contexts, and to meet people that would make her want to come back and visit, very soon, knowing more Spanish than the last time they had spoken.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Approaching Ethical Dilemmas with a Global Perspective

\Our CEE was an interactive leadership seminar that featured a rbief presentation, which was followed by round-table discussions. Our target audeince was Carlow students, though the audience aslo consisted of limited faculty and important advisors to the event. The focus of our presentation was to educate and inform budding leaders of the importance of cultural competence, which is the ability to work effectively in a cross-cultural interaction. We defined culture, described cultural competence, and emphasized its importance and difficulty. Additionally, a visual of how to apply cultural competency to a specific situation was supplied. Once the presentation was complete, we transitioned into the round-tables, which supplemented the presentation. These discussions allowed for application of concepts described in the presentation. Real life examples from healthcare and general professions were utilized to showcase the difficulty of navigating ethical dilemmas that involve cultural aspects. Each cohort member facilitated a separate discussion, all the while encouraging multiple perspectives. Following the discussions, closing thoughts were opened to the audience to share what was learned, as well as addressing any questions that lingered. At the event's close, we were impressed by the level of engagement we were able to experience with the audience and by the depth of the conversations in the discussion. Each of us saw growth in the attendees of our CEE, and we were satisfied with the fulfillment of our CEE's mission.