Ciera Fitts

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

Waynesburg University

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Ciera’ Fitts spent a total of 32 days taking an online course in San Jose, Costa Rica. She was able to study the conversion of water and the climate effects in the tropics of Costa Rica. Her major is Marine Biology and she is a senior that will be proudly graduating in the spring of 2022 from Waynesburg University. She primarily learned about the acidification of the ocean. This crisis is occurring due to an abundance of carbon dioxide usage and it causes a negative outcome within the ocean. Coral reefs are being bleached, meaning whitened, and can initially die from this bleaching. She adapted to terrible internet connections and internet failures, so she could successfully pass the course. Unfortunately, she was not able to get much international experience due to all of the connection difficulties, being the only student online, and the course is conducted as a regular online course.

Being online put Ciera’ at a natural disadvantage, so she was not able to learn more about the culture nor truly experience it. She tried to emerge herself into the culture by attempting to conduct interviews, yet the only Costa Rican she was exposed to was her teacher. Unfortunately, her teacher was far too busy to conduct one. If she was able to go through his experience again she would do it in person and if virtual was the only option she would respectfully decline.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Cultural Workshop: Travel The World 

My community engagement experience was virtual as I had presented on tropical marine biology via zoom. I virtually studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica through the program provider International Studies Abroad (ISA). Unfortunately, during the presentation, I experienced technical difficulties but continued to be adaptable. Waynesburg University has a 3-1 program for marine biology, therefore, as a senior, I am finishing off my last year at Coastal Carolina University. Since I am currently in a different state from my peers, technology would only allow the audience to see and hear me, but I could not see nor hear them. I presented the topics or issues I absorbed from that course such as ocean acidification, coral bleaching, marine organisms, prosperities of water, etc. I was able to give the audience a mini-Spanish lesson by teaching them different ways to greet people and teaching them ways to respond to the greeting. Not only that, but they learned the proper words or phrases that are gender orient, learned emotions, and much more. I informed them about the common food Costa Rican people ate and how to properly pronounce them. They briefly learned about a common folk dance; in ways they express themselves. I educated the audience about the social norms that may be odd to Americans and the different political issues they endure. I interviewed my professor from the topical marine biology course and shared the responses she gave during the interview. Overall, I would rate my CEE a success especially since the President of Waynesburg University gave me a personal shout out and he informed me of what he learned during my presentation.