Kaitlin Fagan

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Temple University

Heinz Programming Area:
Economic Opportunity
International Experience Summary:

Kaitlin Fagan spent seven weeks in Madagascar studying the political and social dimensions of healthcare and the benefits of integrating traditional medicine into Madagascar’s westernized health system and Malagasy.  In French, English or Malagasy, allopathic health care professionals and traditional healers shared the history of their professional field and personal experience. This intimate view into the Malagasy health care system allowed Kaitlin to challenge the preconceived definitions of health care and medicine that are prevalent in America.  Based on the immense amount of first-hand accounts heard and extensive literature reviews, Kaitlin conducted research comparing Madagascar and America in regards to approaches to mental health. Her research revealed the important role that spirituality and the environment play in healing mental illness in Madagascar- a stark difference to the American approach.  Along with interactions with health care professionals, Kaitlin stayed with two homestay families which offered deep immersion into the rural and urban Malagasy cultures.  Kaitlin learned she can overcome challenges like bucket showering, living without a toilet, eating scary amounts of white rice, hiking a mountain barefoot, and waking up with the sun.  Being a first time world traveler, she enjoyed and was inspired by the travel stories of the other American girls in her program. Madagascar gifted Kaitlin with two wonderful families, eight friends and an expanded idea of the concept “health care.”

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.