Talia Kirkland

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Duquesne University

Heinz Programming Area:
Children, Youth, and Families
International Experience Summary:

Talia Kirkland spent the summer exploring and studying Rome, Italy at the Richmond University for four weeks. While in Rome, Talia had the opportunity to not only earn class credit and enhance her résumé but more importantly she was able to gain a respect and understanding for a culture unlike her own. Talia had never travel outside of the country before embarking on her journey overseas. Talia was able to gain independence by living in an apartment within the heart of Rome. Her living experience taught her values and customs that she could never have understood by studying Italian in an American classroom. Walking two miles daily to school she met and connected with many of the local residents. The residents helped her navigate her way around the city. Talia, a journalist major, was also afforded the opportunity to study photo journalism during her four week stay. She was able to develop the skill and techniques she needed to be proficient in photography. At the end of the course Talia completed her first portfolio of photos, something that many journalist take months or years to complete. Most importantly the course taught Talia the value of capturing life in the moment. Much of Talia’s free time was spent exploring the city with her camera whether that was going to visit much of the famous landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, and the Sixteenth Chapel or just exploring the small family owned restaurant trying new cuisine. On the weekend Talia took advantage of opportunities to visit Venice and Florence. Both cities she found not only breath taking but drastically different from Rome. These experiences enhanced Talia’s global perspective; appreciating the Italian cultures’ differences, she found beautiful connections between the two cultures. Talia believes this opportunity has enhanced her cultural view by exposing her to many customs so unlike her own of the world she is excited to apply the tools, skills and values she learned in Italy to her life back home.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Social Experiment: Sex in the Media

Our CEE event entitled, Social Experiment: Sex in the Media, was designed to question our global standards and evoke provocative dialogue center around the focus of women’s image within the media. We showed the documentary Miss. Representation to a target group of Duquesne University students. The group was asked to watch the film with open minds, and hearts in order to promote a genuine conversation based on the issues the film raises about our global society’s perception of women. The group was asked to keep a list of the top things that stuck out to them, and then report out to the larger group. Once we acquired the complete list of all the running issues that were posed throughout the film, we collectively came up with steps to create to a campus centered action plan. The CEE program was a safe zone for students to express and discuss freely the topic of sex that invade our homes, cars, and lives without permission. The program allowed for a diverse group of individuals to understand their peers positions. Often the group found a common ground, others instances the group stood on opposite ends of the room about particular subject matters but the group always listened to one another. After studying abroad in various country’s my group and I felt it was imperative to address that women within both our contemporary society and various countries are continuously being subjected to discrimination based on their gender.  Our program sought to take the necessary steps to end this objectify trend that seems to plague our global culture. Traveling abroad empowered us as women, and we understood that upon returning to the states it was now our global duty to empower our generation and in particular the women of our generation. The initial steps to ignite change is addressing and tackling the problem head on, we had to address the elephant in the room, “Why are women taught to shrink themselves in order for men to feel large? Why are women taught to be strong but not too strong? Finally why is a woman’s value centered on her looks?”