University of Pittsburgh | OaklandHeinz Programming Area:
Sanaa Ahmed studied at a university in Tokyo, Japan for four weeks. She lived with a host family with whom she improved her Japanese and learned daily Japanese lifestyle and culture. She spent much of her time with her host family discussing cultural and language differences and learning how to properly eat Japanese food. With her program she visited the Life Safety Center, where she learned about and experienced a simulation of the March 2011 earthquake which caused so much damage in Japan. Furthermore, through her program Sanaa was able to visit historical places such as Shirakawa Village and Matsumoto Castle, as well as attend Noh and Kabuki plays and participate in the arts of Wadaiko and flower arranging. These cultural activities were reinforced by the classes she took at a university which Japanese students also attended. Sanaa also attended a Tanabata festival in one of Tokyo’s districts and the event Comiket in Japan’s largest convention center. The classes and activities combined to give her expansive exposure to much of Japanese culture.
CEE Title: Diverse Dimensions Dinner Series
My CEE was the Diverse Dimensions Dinner Series, which was held in February this semester. The goal of this dinner series program was to enhance the quality of relationships between Chinese international and American domestic students at the Pitt Oakland campus. Ten international and ten domestic students were chosen through an application process to attend the series. The series consisted of three dinners, each one focusing on a particular topic. These topics were personal and cultural experiences, cultural values, and behavior, and communication and relationship building. Each dinner had a couple activities and a discussion section. The first dinner had a focus on icebreaker activities to help the students become more comfortable with each other. The second dinner delved into more involved topics by discussing morals and values. The last dinner focused on verbal and nonverbal communication as well as a panel discussion involving students who had studied abroad. The variety of topics as well as the informal atmosphere created a positive environment where relationships could form and develop. As evidence of these relationships, a Facebook group was created which the student attendees willingly joined to maintain contact after the series was over.