Monica Wilbur studied Spanish language in an immersive environment in Santiago, Chile for nine weeks. She stayed with a host family that consisted of two loving “parents” and two little “sisters.” This home stay was a part of the language and cultural immersion process. She learned how to effectively communicate important information, thoughts, ideas, and feelings. She also got to compare the differences and similarities of being part of a family in another part of the world. While in Santiago, Monica took Spanish composition classes at a Chilean university. She also volunteered at a house where oncology patients stayed while receiving chemo treatments. At this house, she helped plan and coordinate fun activities for the children and their mothers, taking into account the children’s physical abilities and interests. During free weekends, Monica explored various towns and cities around central Chile so she could get a better grasp of the country’s identity. She also visited the Atacama in northern Chile for a week at the end of her stay so she could compare the differences between city-life in Santiago with the lives of people living in the middle of the desert in less populated areas. Monica has brought back with her a new vision of this world and of her place in it. She is very excited to continue to learn about people and cultures from all over the world.
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.