Callie DeMasters studied the history and society of France virtually this past summer. While she still dreams of visiting the country in person, the course was a great benchmark in marking a long-time goal of hers; she began studying French in August of 2018 following her high school AP European History course that revealed her love for the country’s history and culture. After changing her career path from history education to design at the end of her first year at Chatham, she knew she wanted to study abroad. Marrying her passions for history, language, and wanderlust, she thus introduced design into the mix.
Callie began her Vira I. Heinz application process in September of 2019. After emailing and researching handfuls of French-type foundries to potentially intern with, she realized she wanted her trip’s sole focus to be on the language itself. Resilience prevailed throughout COVID when her months of planning dissipated within days. Grateful for the opportunity that VIH was providing in allowing her to defer to the following year, Callie re-considered her goals and intentions for the trip. Ultimately, she was unable to travel and therefore studied virtually through a 4-week course facilitated by James Madison University. Once again her resiliency played an important role throughout her time with VIH. Whether she was endlessly searching for an advanced level virtual program that met her needs - or practicing flexibility with her French journey in comparison to what she had expected, Callie never allowed a change in circumstance to affect her passion in studying the language, no matter how that experience would look.
While Callie is still planning to go abroad. She knows everything unfolds as it should: this course was not only a reminder of why she began studying the language but game time for her to expand her upper intermediate/ advanced language skills to what she will use on her first trip to France one day.
CEE Title: Finding Resilience
Finding Resilience, hosted by Callie DeMasters and Emma Louie, went beyond just their domestic-international studying experiences. It stimulated discussion and panel presentation focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the course of their academics, professions, and hobbies. The event provided a space for attendees to reflect on their own personal experiences through a panel discussion led by Callie and Emma. Towards the end of the panel, resources were shared by the Viras to help connect others to mental health and arts/cultural-related community activities around Pittsburgh. This was done with an understanding that absorbing oneself back into a healthy routine that is rooted in the community is done most effectively with the resources provided. The city is ripe with people, activities, and events that attendees can utilize to better support their mental health. Approaching one’s own mental health takes time and effort, which can be paired with arts and cultural resources to help aid the process.
Callie and Emma finished the presentation with a portion on resilience, given by Chatham University professor, Melissa Bell. Dr. Bell has experience teaching courses related to social work, resilience, and psychology. The Viras wanted to introduce a scholar well versed in the subject to supply attendees with further knowledge on the topic of resilience. This ultimately gave a wonderful conclusion to the panel. In the end, both Callie and Emma found great value in preparing this panel and reflecting on their own personal experiences with resilience once more.