Amber Montgomery studied abroad in Amman, Jordan for two months, living with a Jordanian host family and furthering her studying of the Arabic language. Amber was able to observe and actively participant in the entire holy Islamic month of Ramadan during her stay, in which she participated in fasting for a day, learned how to properly pray, and experience many traditions of the holiday. In addition, she often volunteered at a local mosque to help serve food for Iftar and Suhoor, and also often gave out water, juice, and dates on the streets to Muslims in their cars who were running late for Iftar. Amber made many new Jordanian friends, young and old, in which she was able to comfortably discuss often taboo subjects of culture, politics, religion, relations between men and woman, education, family, marriage, and gain insight to the culture. She was able to drastically improve her Arabic in the local dialect by dedicating herself to using as much Arabic as possible at home and out and about in Amman. On breaks from classes, Amber was able to travel to incredible places and experience amazing adventures like riding a camel through the Wadi Rum desert, hiking up a mountain in Petra, floating in the Dead Sea, snorkeling in the Red Sea, visiting mosques and churches around Amman, being invited to a Shabbat dinner in Jerusalem, exploring Ramallah and finding Yassar Arafat's tomb, and seeing the birthplace of Jesus.
CEE Title: Your Identity Abroad
Our CEE focused on of aspects of identity, safety, and cultural competency when studying abroad. These were all important concepts and discussions we were able to have both pre- and post- our international experiences due to the VIH Program. However, we wanted to give back to the community by helping those who had already studied abroad and those planning or thinking about studying abroad to be exposed to these ideas and think more about them. We did this in two parts; first we had round table discussions that focused on aspects of gender, race, and age that focused on discussing the social norms around each topic in our culture and how these change in a target host culture. The round table discussions were split up regionally and each was led by a VIH awardee who had studied abroad in the region each table was devoted to. The second part was a self-defense seminar put on my Pitt Police were Officer Camp and her team taught the audience some simple self-defense moves and tactics as well as had a short discussion about staying safe both abroad and on a college campus.