Lauren Fawcett

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

University of Pittsburgh | Greensburg

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Lauren Fawcett spent five weeks in San Jose, Costa Rica studying and participating in an intensive Spanish course along with an art theory and practice course. She adapted and immersed herself into the culture quickly by conversing with locals and exploring the areas around her. While she was exploring, she learned that Costa Ricans appreciate life in a deeper way and always said “Pura Vida” which means “pure life”. Lauren is studying Early Childhood Education and even though she could not volunteer within the schools, she visited a school and asked multiple questions about the schooling system in Costa Rica. In addition, Lauren immersed herself by walking 18 miles to Cartago for a national holiday called Virgen de los Angeles which is held on August 2nd. Millions of people walked beside her on the pilgrimage and conversed about various things with many different people. Lauren learned that people will walk for weeks to pray to the Virgin Angels on August 2nd. Also, Lauren helped paint a mural in a small neighborhood for her art class. The mural took a week to complete and she painted various things that inspired her about Costa Rica. One particular experience that she shared in her mural was a trip that she took on horseback up a volcano called Arenal Volcano. She also helped paint a large sloth after witnessing one in the rainforest for the first time at Manuel Antonio. On the weekends, Lauren took advantage of the opportunity to travel all around the country and see the many unique sites that she would never see elsewhere. Lauren experienced different but rich foods, music, language, and people, and she was grateful that she was able to have this breath taking experience of the pura vida lifestyle.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: One Love: A Conversation on Cultural Tolerance

The VIH cohort of 2013 from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg created and presented their Community Engagement Experience program on cultural intolerance. With careful planning skills, we discussed the issue of cultural intolerance in a unique way. We first hooked the audience by presenting a PowerPoint about various people from the United States who looked like they were from another culture. We had the audience write down where they thought they were from. After, as a team we created skits that demonstrated cultural intolerance within the United States and demonstrated what we experienced abroad.  We asked questions throughout the skits to have the audience think of what they just saw. Next, we gave the answers of who all of the people in the PowerPoint were, they were all born in the United States. This was the climax of the program, by having the audience truly grasp what cultural intolerance is because they just assumed that the people were from other countries. Lastly we included a diverse student panel of international students. The audience anonymously wrote down questions to ask the student panel. The questions were very thought provoking, which got the student panel to really express their feelings on what cultural intolerance is. This got the audience to actually see how people who look “other” or “different” really feel toward cultural intolerance. The Community Engagement Experience program One Love: a conversation on cultural tolerance was successful and I hope we made a positive impact.