Shantale Davis studied at Veritas University in San Jose, Costa Rica for five weeks through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). During the day she took an intensive Spanish course and an Art class. Though the classes were beneficial, the majority of her experience took place outside of the classroom. Her program did an excellent job of providing weekly excursions in San Jose and weekend programs to other parts of the country. She traveled to Jaco, Puerto Viejo and Quepos. She and 5 other girls from different programs lived with a wonderful host family who provided traditional Tico (Costa Rican) meals for breakfast and dinner. She volunteered at a local orphanage and spent time with the children doing whatever they wanted to do, which often included drawing and playing volleyball or soccer. These children, while slow to warm up to new guests, would treat her like they’ve known each other forever once they were okay with the presence of Shantale and her friends. She also spent time at a local park near the University where she could interact with the Costa Rican people on a more informal level. She would talk and play basketball with the local children who loved to playfully correct her when her Spanish was incorrect. While abroad she completed class projects that included learning about specific holidays and researching important Latino historical figures. Shantale also learned to cook a few traditional Costa Rican dishes like gallo pinto and her mama tica’s secret guacamole recipe. On the weekends Shantale traveled throughout the country, eventually making it to the Caribbean Coast, Puerto Viejo, which was very vibrant and one of the least Americanized places she had the opportunity to visit. This experience was one that she would call life changing, because it has contributed a positive view to the world outside of the United States and has given her the desire to travel more in her future.
Our CEE focused the Double Bind in regards to women in the workforce, the classroom and in combat. We opened the evening with an introduction to the double bind and what it means. Following this introduction were clips from popular films that depicted the double bind (Devil Wears Prada). After asking if there were any questions we broke out into individual groups (team members) equipped with a topic and starting points to generate conversation. My portion focused on the double bind in the classroom and how one is cast as the good or bad student based off of superficial information. From there my breakout group began to talk about the double bind female faculty members face vs male faculty members. The session closed by asking participants about any personal experiences they have had that the double bind could apply to. Since we as group members were set up at different tables, the participants moved from group member to group member to in order to interact with everyone. This provided a quick and efficient way for participants enjoy a variety of areas focused on the double bind. After the sessions we took a brief moment for guest to get more refreshments, before we regrouped to discuss as one large group what we had learned in our breakout groups. After facilitating this conversation we asked for possible solutions and ways we can help others become more aware of the double bind. Finally we shared a bit of our international experience as we thanked the Vira I Heniz foundation and everyone who had a hand in helping us complete our time abroad and our impact at home.