Paige Carter

International Experience Country:
South Africa
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Waynesburg University

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Paige Carter traveled to Capetown, South Africa, for six weeks to participate in a Community Development and Social Justice Program. During this time, she studied the challenges and realities of post-Apartheid South Africa through innovative courses and an integrated community partnership project. Paige volunteered at a local NGO that equips susceptible young people aged 18-21 toward self-sustaining lifestyles and higher education. She promoted positive and independent transition by teaching the youth domestic skills in cooking and the utilization of machinery. Paige created instructional templates for the NGO that will equip the youth to further their goals of self-sufficiency. Much of her free time was spent befriending colleagues and locals. Their conversations surrounded topics of international relations and ethics. Her interactions supplemented her academic findings for the case study information she was gathering. Paige also witnessed political demonstrations, traditional South African dance, and attended several governmental events including Parliament. She was also able to experience a more traditional indigenous South African culture by participating in language workshops and spending time outside of the city proper. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Exploring Voluntourism

Paige Carter Our event entitled ‘Exploring Voluntourism’ was centered around a discussion on effective service, civic engagement, promoting sustainability, and assessing personal motives when traveling. ‘Voluntourism’ can typically be defined as an international, short-term, group-oriented trip that requires little-to-no previous experience, participatory fees, and is run by a company. It usually emphasizes the participant's experience. We wished to challenge the narrative that missions have become to our generation. Our experiences abroad revealed the dangers of community intrusion and the creation of dependency in our host countries. We held a workshop for our community during which we discussed the importance of considering the needs of a country before considering a program or charity to work with. We emphasized that to make such a consideration, there must be a foundational understanding of the cultural, societal nuances, and history of an environment. In our presentation, we used examples of harmful and helpful missions work, defined and explained the importance of civic engagement, and outlined how critical the use of community assets can be. One of Waynesburg’s Resident Directors served as our keynote speaker. He is involved in a Costa Rican fair-trade coffee company that perfectly exemplified what it means to effectively engage internationally. After our twenty-minute presentation, our audience to broke into groups to answer questions that we formulated. The breakout session was segmented into three timed rounds. At the end of each round, our guests switched tables and sat with a new group of people. The questions gave attendees a chance to deconstruct what they had just heard in a way that was relevant to their own experiences with missions. On each of the tables, there were quotes about missions from Waynesburg University professors. We saw this as a way to integrate our event with available resources local to our audience. Our University’s Multicultural Club donated international hors d’oeuvres. We also received donations of coffee from our keynote speaker and a student-owned coffee business.