University of Pittsburgh | OaklandHeinz Programming Area:
Mary Hassan spent seven weeks of her summer traveling throughout Iceland, studying renewable energy and resource economics. While there she saw some of the natural wonders of the world while gaining experience and knowledge in the sustainability engineering sector. Mary was immersed in Icelandic culture during her two week homestay in Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords. During her homestay she visited the fishing village of Suðureyri (her host mom's hometown), the arctic fox center in Suðavík, the coast outside Bolungarvík looking out upon the North Atlantic, and was even able to kayak in Skutulsfjörður fjord! Additionally, Mary improved her Icelandic language skills and even learned how to knit. While at both the University Centre of the Westfjords and the University of Reykjavík, Mary explored the human and vegetative health effects of geothermal energy off-gassing and possible abatement methods to improve sustainability. During academic excursions, Mary was able to visit Hellisheiði (Iceland's largest geothermal power plants), several power stations in the Westfjords, and all of Iceland's windmills (three windmills!). Following the conclusion of classes, Mary and her group traveled to the Icelandic highlands where she visited Iceland's Golden Circle (Þingvellir national park, Gulfoss waterfall, and Strokkur Geysir), hiked up Mount Bláhnjúkur in the Landmannalaugar campsite, walked along the black sand beaches of Vík, visited the Skógafoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls, and went to the famous site of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption. Overall, Mary's experience opened her eyes to the natural beauty of untouched land and continued her interest in nature conservation and sustainable living. Now she is busy planning her next trip back-- Ísland er frábært!
By looking at the issues surrounding domestic violence in the United States, our CEE shed light on a universal problem that has recently arisen in the news. It is an issue that knows no race, religion, or socioeconomic background. By screening the documentary "Private Violence", our CEE brought the conversation to our own university community. It is by no means an easy conversation to have, but it is an extremely necessary one. During our event, Cassandra, Jonelle, and I led a discussion with the attendees on the topic of domestic violence and the legal ramifications surrounding it. Despite the severity of the crime, there is often little punishment. Through this CEE, our group and our program's attendees became better informed about this issue.