Kayla Dell spent her summer studying the topics of environment, development, and sustainability through a virtual program in India offered by the School of International Training (SIT). In the weeks of her program, Kayla woke up each morning in Pittsburgh, PA, and logged onto a class in Jaipur, India. She joined 11 other students from all over the United States and Japan for cultural programming and a series of intensive lectures on the climate emergency, sustainable v.s. economic development, and environmental justice. Kayla’s program included a 5-week internship where she was paired with one of SIT’s partner organizations named Manjari Sansthan. Manjari is a small, non-profit organization operating out of Rajasthan, India that works to eliminate child labor within the mining industry, one of the country’s largest opportunities for employment. In her time at Manjari, Kayla was tasked with creating a data analytics report to determine the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Indian mining community. Her report titled, “The Impact of Covid-19 on Mining Communities: A Rapid Assessment” will be used as a reference guide as they program their targeted community efforts in preparation for India’s third wave of the coronavirus.
Studying abroad virtually created a unique experience for Kayla in many ways, the largest being the difference in time zones across the participant's locations. The nine-and-a-half-hour time difference between her home in Pittsburgh and her instructors in Jaipur changed Kayla’s perspective on the usual hours of a workday; Coming together at different times led to unique conversations about daily habits that gave personal insight into life in India. Guest lectures were the highlight of Kayla’s virtual abroad experience because she was able to gain international perspectives as lecturers logged in from all corners of India. Kayla ended her experience in India with a piece of expanded knowledge on the impact of future development on the climate as well as a greater appreciation for Indian culture and the values of humility, family, and community responsibility.
The Global Collaboration Workshop was the development of VIH 2021 Cohort members Kayla Dell and Hannah Uschock. The workshop displayed the ways that technology has progressed to allow people of all backgrounds and geographic locations to work together to solve big problems. Some examples of the need for international and cross cultural collaboration include technological progressand expedition,impact the of public policy, and solving the climate crisis. Collaborative programs such as Microsoft Teams, communication programs such as translation apps, and accessible video chats like Zoom have made it so that we can all connect, but many people still hesitate to step out of their “cultural box”.The Global Collaboration Workshop showed attendees how to break down barriers to cross-cultural collaboration in their day to day work and inspired them to seek ideas outside of their usual circle. The event took place on two days in November of 2021, once at Thiel College in Greenville, PA and another at Carlow University in Oakland, PA.Through a communicative workshop approach atendees and presenters were able to ask questions, share experiences, and exchange ideasabout collaborating on the international level or interdepartmentally at work. Cross-cultural collaboration is an idea that can be applied in all environments and can lead to better, more creative outcomes. These VIH members brought this large topic into perspectivethrough the Global Collaboration Workshop event.