Kathleen Rhoa

International Experience Country:
Czech Republic
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Duquesne University

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Kathleen Rhoa spent her summer in the beautiful city of Prague learning about the several different historical and industrial events that shaped the current state of the Czech Republic. During her time at Charles University, one of Prague’s largest schools, Kathleen studied Art and Architecture and History of the Czech Region with a multitude of other American students from all around the United Sates. In her art class, Kathleen was not only able to learn in the classroom about various art styles that make up the Czech Republic, but also got to view them for herself. Her and her peers were constantly on the go seeking out famous buildings and art galleries with their instructor. Among her most favorite visits were St. Agnes’ Convent and the Modern Art Gallery collection where her instructor had actually designed a large portion of the exhibits. In History of the Czech Region, Kathleen was educated about the events that led up to the Czech Republic’s independence from early years until present day. This class peaked her interest for, before her journey, she was unfamiliar with the Czech people, so it was amazing to her to learn about a country so rich in culture and diversity. On the weekends, Kathleen traveled to several parts of the Czech Republic with her local advisors including Český Krumlov, Moravia, and Terezín—one of the most famous concentration camps in the Czech region. Also, due to a holiday break, Kathleen utilized some extra free time to discover herself and where her family came from by traveling to places like Austria and Scotland. All in all, Kathleen was truly changed by her time spent in a foreign land and was able to discover how culture can drastically change by crossing an ocean. Because of her experience, Kathleen continues to be a part of Duquesne’s Orientation Program where she intends to make America and Duquesne become the foreign students’ home just like the Czech Republic had become hers.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Beauty Around the World

Beauty Around the World was a CEE that gave the opportunity to women at Duquesne University to come together and speak about the various beauty standards that constrict today’s society. First, Lauryn spoke about the beauty standards she faced while studying abroad in Ghana, Africa. She had many interesting things to discuss, including that a majority of the women her age in major African cities participate in skin bleaching and do not wear their natural hair. Next, Cheryl spoke about the pressures she faced while studying in Madrid, Spain. Most girls there are valued for their curvier figures and not small, athletic bodies. Finally, I spoke about some beauty standards I faced while living in the Czech Republic. Women in the Czech Republic value fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. After our presentation, we sat down and, together with our attendees, had roundtable discussions about topics including cultural appropriation, the idea of sexualizing women in the mainstream media, and discovering one’s own identity without beauty. While there was laughter and smiles at times during the conversations, there were also some serious moments when attendees admitted to being treated differently because they were not an “ideal woman.” Finishing off the night, we all played an interactive game that was aimed at getting the attendees to admit beauty standards existed within themselves in hopes to get rid of them. On a projector screen, three different portraits of women were displayed on the screen and two players had to pick which one of the three they had thought was the “prettiest” and why. A judge would then decide who the winner was, and the most enthusiastic participant walked away with a Duquesne T-Shirt as a prize. Overall, Beauty Around the World was a success.