Caroline Erkes

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Temple University

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Caroline Erkes spent the summer attending classes at the University of Oviedo in Oviedo, Spain.  She was completely immersed in the Spanish language, living with a host family who only spoke Spanish, and taking classes in Spanish centering on Spanish language and culture.  She also had to speak Spanish anywhere she went in Oviedo and other Spanish cities.  Caroline not only got to learn about the many differing cultures in Spain, but had the opportunity to experience Asturian Spanish culture on a day to day basis.  Much of her free time was spent listening to music with her host mother, exploring Oviedo with her host brother, and enjoying the easygoing Spanish lifestyle and delicious Spanish cuisine with her school mates.  Although there were many points of frustration when speaking a language other than one’s own, Caroline learned to appreciate the difficulties many around the world are faced with when being forced to learn English. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: T.U.C.A.R.E.S., Temple University Community Advocating for Renewed Environmentalism and Sustainability

The Temple 2015 Vira I Heinz Cohort based their CEE on their observations of other countries’ environmental policies and problems. They wanted to address how the environment is not something to think about in a removed sense, and how easy it is to get involved with environmentalism and sustainability while living in the heart of North Philadelphia. Temple Student Government hosts an off-campus clean-up, though it usually has low attendance and no educational component. The Cohort coordinated with this program, Adopt-A-Block, as well as with on- and off-campus environmental organizations. The Cohort created the program T.U.C.A.R.E.S., Temple University Community Advocating for Renewed Environmentalism and Sustainability. The program took place on a Sunday morning-- the event attracted over 80 participants, which is more than two times the usual attendance of the Adopt-A-Block events. The Cohort began by sharing their experiences abroad, as well as what the Vira I. Heinz Program entails. Two organizations within Temple University spoke about their missions and how to get involved on campus, as did an organization that works in the greater Philadelphia area. The organizations also set up informational tables and passed out flyers to the participants. After the discussion and instructions, the group was assigned specific blocks off of campus. The Cohort helped distribute gloves and trash bags to the participants, and then the groups split up. The participants and the Cohort left campus to clean up their blocks, which was greatly appreciated by the students and residents living off campus.