Taylor Leigh Gombar immersed herself in Shanghainese culture while studying in China for six weeks. At East China Normal University Gombar performed investigative research with Professor Limei Laoshi on China’s urban transformation in a market socialism economy. After walkthroughs of inner city slums, rural Water Villages, and the suburban ‘copy town’ Thames, Gombar was able to comparatively analyze residential segregation and citizenship stratification. When Gombar was not studying economic development she was learning Mandarin. Out of class she took Calligraphy and cooking lessons where she learned how to make Zhūròu jiǎozi (pork dumplings). At entertainment venues she watched a Chinese Acrobat Show, a native Face-Changing performance, and saw her first Giant Panda at the Wild Life Animal Zoo. Locals taught Gombar how to play Ping-Pong left-handed and order a glass of Chocolate Boba Milk Tea from CoCo’s. On the weekends Gombar toured the Zhejing Province (Hangzhou), Jiangsu Providence (Nanjing), and rode the Bullet Train to Beijing. Although astonished by the architecture of the Great Wall and the expansion of the six-tiered expressway, Gombar and friends found the overlook from her 19th floor apartment most moving.
CEE Title: SQUATified with World Sanitation
The literal butt-kicking event— SQUATified with World Sanitation educated 17 men and women, ages 17-62, on the importance of collective sewage and purified water. Taking form as a squat fitness class, the exercises ranged from simple air squats to challenging jumping squats. These exercises exemplified the strains of un-modernized sanitation systems. Vira I. Heinz awardees, Taylor Leigh Gombar and Emily Schmidt, led three 15-minute interactive discussions during the class’s intermission. Gombar stated that the core concept arose from her investigation in standards of living in China as well as her experiences with “Squatty Potties.” It was custom to carry a toiletry-sized soap bar and toilet paper since many restrooms did not provide such sanitation products. The women detailed stories from their study abroad experiences in China and Italy as well as relevant global statistics. Schmidt also spoke on access to soap/cleaning products and purified water. With free admission the women requested sanitation donations from attendees. The event collected 28 donations for the Light of Life Rescue Mission— a Pittsburgh homeless shelter.