Kiersten Snyder

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Duquesne University

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

Kiersten Snyder spent her six-week study abroad experience in over fifteen different cities in Spain during the summer of 2015. During the majority of her stay, Kiersten attended daytime classes at the Universidad de Salamanca Pontificia and evening classes through Duquesne University. During these classes, Kiersten became very engaged in the language, conversation style, and culture of Spain. Through her studies, she became particularly interested in Spanish architecture, which she regularly examined and wrote about while on her weekend excursions. Kiersten graduated from her Spanish university with a 9/10 score, which deemed her as “proficient” in the Spanish language. She could not have achieved this without the extra help of her host family. Kiersten lived in a Spanish family’s home during her international experience. The family spoke little English, which greatly helped Kiersten learn even more about the language and culture. Kiersten and her family spent a lot of time together, whether they were cooking tortilla de patata, a classic Spanish dish, or just relaxing and watching a Spanish voice over version of Gunsmoke.  While in one of her favorite towns, Salamanca, Kiersten became involved in a youth mentor program. The children in the program often had behavioral or family issues. Kiersten was matched with a ten-year-old boy named Hector. Kiersten and Hector had an absolute blast together. They often drew pictures, worked on school activities, played soccer, and thoroughly discussed Minions and Pokémon. Although Kiersten was supposed to be teaching Hector Basic English, Hector definitely taught Kiersten all about Spain. This trip reconfirmed Kiersten’s desire to want to work with and help children in other countries. Since her visit to Spain, Kiersten has been researching mission trips in Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries as she hopes to volunteer in an orphanage next summer. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: From Prague to Pittsburgh: Human Trafficking Around the Globe

On November 4, 2015, the Duquesne cohort hosted “From Prague to Pittsburgh: Human Trafficking around the Globe.” As one can tell from our title, our CEE focused on human trafficking around the world and locally as well. Our CEE was comprised of three parts: a slideshow presentation, a film viewing, and an open discussion. The four of us presented statistics, factual information, and personal testimonies from our respective countries. Raquel focused on Tanzania; Sarah focused on Czech Republic, I focused on Spain, and Janae focused on the United States with an emphasis on the Pittsburgh community. In between our individual slideshows, we showed clips from the impactful, hard-hitting documentary from the 2011, “Not My Life.” We chose sections of the film that represented human trafficking scenarios that were similar to those of our respective countries. For example, we showed Ghanaian boys being forced into labor trafficking, which was similar to what Raquel’s study abroad destination, Tanzania.  After informing our viewers of the stark reality of human trafficking and providing a film to illustrate it, we then addressed how to identify trafficking. We provided lists and examples of human trafficking scenarios to increase awareness in our audience. After this section, we opened up discussion with questions. The audience was incredibly engaged and affected by our presentation; they showed great interest. To close the night, we dined on provided pizza and soft drinks and created a sign-up sheet for a local shelter for human trafficking victims. All in all, I feel that our CEE was a great success, learning experience, and fulfilled the idea of “thinking globally” and “acting locally.”