Megan Verwelst

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Johnstown

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Megan Verwelst travelled to the United Kingdom and spent six weeks studying and exploring the international city of London. She enrolled in courses through CAPA International Education, where she studied travel writing and Modern British society. She explored diverse parts of the city, from the prosperous areas of central London to the run-down outer areas. She gained an understanding of the disparity between the social classes in London, which she observed firsthand. She met and interacted with a woman who used to live on the streets and learned about the realities of homelessness and the various social issues, such as poverty and prejudice, that plague many of London’s citizens. Megan became captivated with the rich historical significance of London, and she spent much of her time visiting museums and historical sites, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of London, and the Tower of London. Megan even had the opportunity to observe the royal family in person, which allowed her to understand the importance and regality of the monarchy in British society. She grew to understand London as a multifaceted global city, a city of great historical and modern importance and influence. Most of all, she came to understand the rich diversity of London and the innumerable cultures and types of people that make up the city. Megan also was able to travel throughout the U.K. and Paris, France. By visiting another country and another global city, she further broadened her understanding of Europe and the United Kingdom. Megan channeled all of her life-changing experiences into works of creative nonfiction, and she wrote essays on topics ranging from the River Thames to the London Underground to the Regency Café, in which she captured her own viewpoint and observations of London. Megan’s experience abroad not only increased her global perspective and understanding of the world and her own culture, but it inspired her to travel more in the future and to continue to pursue her dreams of travel writing.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: End the Silence 5K Run/Walk

We hosted a 5K Walk/Run on the Pitt-Johnstown Campus to raise awareness about issues affecting women both locally and globally, with a focus on human trafficking and domestic violence.  The event, “End the Silence,” consisted of an informative session about these issues, followed by the 5K.  During the informative session, we each gave presentations about human trafficking in the countries where we had studied abroad (South Africa, Cyprus, United Kingdom).  Then, a representative from the local Women’s Help Center gave a presentation about domestic violence.  We then held the 5K Walk/Run around campus, and throughout the course, we set up optional information stations, where participants could stop and answer questions about what they had learned during the presentations.  We thought that a 5K would be a great way to get students involved in an activity while simultaneously informing them about crucial issues that impact women both locally and globally.  We tied bells to participants shoes, so that while students were walking and running, they were truly “Ending the Silence” and giving a voice to the countless victims of violence against women.