Lauren Hunter

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Lauren Hunter spent 8 weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina in a Spanish Language Intensive Program. While in Argentina, Lauren took three intensive Spanish courses and attended weekly cultural and immersion events. Some of these cultural events included trips to art galleries, historical museums, bike tours around the city, Tango classes, and musical performances. The immersion events included a conversation night to practice speaking and a soccer scrimmage with local young girls because soccer is a huge part of Argentine culture. These girls needed role models and leaders, so the programmed asked students in the program to volunteer. Another volunteer activity in which Lauren participated was helping 6 year olds learn about dental hygiene at a school in a low-income community. She also took weekend excursions to Colonia and Montevideo in Uruguay and another trip to Mendoza, another province in Argentina. In these trips, Lauren saw a different culture and life outside of the huge city of Buenos Aires. Mendoza was Lauren’s favorite part of the experience because she was able to visit the mountains for the first time, play in the snow, but also visit and eat dinner with Zequeguayans, an Indigenous group in Mendoza. The food was amazing and she seized opportunity to talk to the village about their culture specifically and their way of life. Lauren loves history so the final task she completed in Argentina was learning more about the history and about how people felt about the current administration. Lauren understood and heard the opinions about the past dictatorship, Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the Holocaust, and the current political issues in the country. She talked about women’s rights and the gender relations in Argentine culture. Another key part of culture in Buenos Aires is protesting, marching, and striking for a cause. They happened every day. Lauren joined the Porteños one night and she walked in a peaceful march called “Ni Uno Menos” which means not one less. This feminist march was one made to counter and express disdain for violence against women, women kidnapped and forced in sex slavery, and in support of women’s rights and exemplify how no woman is forgotten. The movement was huge and Lauren had never felt such powerful emotion and camaraderie marching alongside all these people in favor of the movement. She loved how everyone seemed in support and had joined together once again, to peacefully express what they felt needed to be reformed or highlighted. Argentina was a really positive experience for her. Through all of these experiences, Lauren was able to create an unbreakable bond with her host mom, form lasting relationships with friends from different parts of the world, and improve her fluency in Spanish. In the future, Lauren would love to return to continue her research on the history and work more with the people in the community.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Stop the Shade: Exploring the Color Bias

Stop the Shade: Exploring the Color Bias demanded that the student body at the University of Pittsburgh-Oakland challenge their own ideas and misconceptions about colorism locally and globally. The event was divided into 4 discussion segments: the definition and history of colorism, global colorism, local colorism, and colorism in the media. The event was designed to have video clips from different regions of the world displaying how colorism manifested and affected teh populations there compared to how it manifested and affected people in other regions. After watching the video clips, attendees were asked to discuss their personal thoughts and observations of the videos. The small round-table discussions were facilitated and guided by a group of questions selected for each portion of the event. After the small group discussions, the discussions were brought to a larger group and people spoke about their general observations or interesting points spoken about at their tables. Before the start of each small group discussion, we asked attendees to switch tables and shuffle around the room in order to ensure that people were receiving a variety of opinions and discusing with different people in order to facilitate more conversations. In wach portion of the event, each member of the cohort's international experience observations were shared and expoinded upon during the smaller groups. In order to relate to the issue locally, a video was show that shared personal stories of how African Americans with darker skin complextions move through the world. We concluded the event by asking if they would continue the conversation about colorism beyond the single event.