Cassandra Gates

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Waynesburg University

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Cassandra Gates traveled and was immersed in the culture of Costa Rica for five weeks. While there, she lived with her Mama Tica (host mom).  Through her classes and experiences, she was able to speak Spanish, which was crucial to her experience in the immersion of the culture. She indulged in the cultural dishes and learned how to prepare arroz con leche and gallo pinto (rice pudding and rice with beans). In addition to her intensive Spanish class, she was enrolled in an environment and sustainable development class. Through the environmental class, she developed a greater passion for the environment and learned the important role environmental sustainability plays in Costa Rica and how to maintain sustainability throughout the world. She experienced sustainability and development first hand during class field trips to national parks and sustainable living communities. Cassie learned the environment is very important to Costa Ricans and they take pride in preserving it. During the weekdays, Cassie took classes and explored the downtown San Jose area. During the weekends, she traveled the country to explore the different parts and the biodiversity of such a small country. What struck her the most, was how proud and patriotic Costa Ricans are and how passionately they exclaim their unofficial national saying,” Pura Vida!” Cassie felt that her experience had a huge impact on her. She wants to educate others about her experience and hopes to inspire others to travel internationally. Since her return, she has spoken to other woman on her campus about her experience and encouraging those eligible to apply for the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Hidden World of Human Trafficking

Our CEE was entitled, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Hidden World of Human Trafficking”. The main idea for the program was to raise awareness to the issue of human trafficking and provide resources for people to learn more and become involved. Our CEE contained multiple parts that together portrayed the issue of human trafficking in a true, but tasteful way. Our event included an introduction to human trafficking and each person received a victim to follow throughout the exhibit. We tied the issue into technology by using a “twitter” wall presentation to display victims’ stories. Also available were computers at the event for participants to watch a video on human trafficking. They were also able to take the slavery footprint survey, and discover how many slaves worked for them based on the items they use and buy. Our exhibit portion of the portion of the event contained facts and visual displays related to human trafficking. The last portion of our event had organizations and individuals for attendees to talk with ad learn how else to get involved. Tied into our event was also a performance by P.W. Gopal, a musician and human trafficking victim advocate. Our CEE event had a total of seventy-seven people walk through the exhibit and attend the performance. After the completion of the CEE event, those that attended continued to discuss human trafficking and the topic of human trafficking is still present on our campus.