Cassandra DellaCorte spent June and July of 2014 living and studying with the CIEE Summer Arabic Language Program in Amman, Jordan. Every weekday, she commuted from her shared apartment in Shmeisani to Princess Sumaya University for Technology, where she studied Modern Standard and Colloquial Jordanian Arabic. In her trips across the city as well as her daily adventures while living in Jordan's capital, she discussed Arab culture and the opinion of America with taxi drivers, fruit sellers, pharmacists, and Jordanian students. Outside of her daily routine, she visited a government school for girls, explored the majesty of Jordan's deserts and lush river valleys as well as historic ruins, made meaningful friendships with young Jordanians, and even went to a friend's wedding. During her time in the Kingdom of Jordan, Cassandra gained a deeper understanding of Muslim culture and a dynamic understanding of what it means to be a woman in a country that exists between tradition and modernity.
CEE Title: Pizza, Popcorn, Feminism
On January 15, 2015, Cassandra DellaCorte, Mary Hassan, and Jonelle Krise held the Community Engagement Experience they called "Pizza, Popcorn, Feminism:" A screening of Private Violence. Private Violence, the HBO documentary, focuses on intimate partner violence and the unfairness of the United States legal system in addressing the fallout. Through case studies and by following the work of Kit Gruelle, an advocate for victims of intimate partner abuse, Private Violence presents a comprehensive picture of the problem at hand. Women in abusive, often dangerous, situations, are experts on their own abuse, but are silenced by the legal situation and their communities. The goal of this CEE was to raise awareness on the reality of victims of intimate partner abuse in the United States, especially, but abroad as well. The night of the event, Mary, Jonelle, and Cassandra filled a conference room in the William Pitt Union on University of Pittsburgh's main campus with pizza, pop, popcorn, and Pitt students. As the attendees served themselves food and got settled, the cohort members prepared the film, then introduced themselves. After briefly describing their travels abroad and experience in the VIH program, they began the film. Pausing approximately halfway through the film, Mary, Jonelle, and Cassandra led a short discussion of what they had seen so far and reflections on gendered violence in general. Then, they finished the documentary, and ended by thanking the attendees and sharing some parting comments. The topics addressed: violence against women, its prevalence throughout society and across socioeconomic groups, and the legal reality of victims of abuse, were powerful and thought-provoking to the hosts as well as the attendees.