Kate Honan

International Experience Country:
Germany & South Africa
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Kate Honan spent 8 weeks this summer studying virtually in Munich, Germany, and South Africa. In Munich, she received lessons in German manufacturing and industrial practices through the Munich University of Applied Science. In addition, she worked on multiple projects in tandem with German graduate students, including a project introduced by and presented to Siemens that addressed a current problem the massive company was facing in real-time since the start of the pandemic. In South Africa, she focused on learning cultural competency skills in engineering design, engineering empathic design, and South African culture and history. This program focused on teaching students how to work on multicultural teams to solve engineering problems while not being in the same physical space. As part of this mission, she was able to interview representatives from four different South African companies and worked in a team to present the representative with a SWOT analysis to help the company improve. In addition, Kate was immersed in South African culture, learning about Apartheid by speaking to Robben Island political prisoner and artist Lionel Davis and exploring gentrification in Cape Town by speaking to a couple of the city’s planners. She explored Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Gauteng through graffiti tours, jazz concerts, and virtual tours where she was able to speak to people on the ground in these cities firsthand.

From this experience, Kate’s ability to and appreciation of sharing virtual spaces in a meaningful fashion improved immensely. It expanded her expectation for the ability to learn from and connect to others while on different continents and showed just how much one can learn by sitting down and having a conversation. Also, because Kate had to fortune to study in two extremely different places, the stark differences in culture and experience were extremely apparent, giving her a holistic global experience and an appreciation for just how diverse in attitude and personality the world is- and the immense opportunity for collaboration that stems from these differences that will help solve the world's greatest problems.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Cross-Cultural Cooking Class  

The goal of our CEE was to bring all the wonderful food we got to experience (or learn about) and the stories that accompanied them back to our campus to share with students. In addition to exposing people to diverse cultures, we hoped to show how easy it is to try to cook new things in order to add to the go-to meals in people's wheelhouse. This was important for the direct intent of convincing students to eat out less, as it significantly adds to plastic and food waste and uses up unnecessary energy in transportation. Our CEC started by introducing the team and summarizing all the places our team had the fortune of traveling to or learning from this summer. Then we started to teach our audience how to make the Cape Malay Potato Fritters and allowed them to follow along with us and ask questions on the way. During down periods such as waiting for the water to boil or cutting up the potatoes, other members of our team introduced their chosen recipes and went into the cultural significance behind them. Some explained the historical significance of their recipe such as the Icelandic geothermal bread that is made in the ground. Others explained the familial significance of how a meal is made and served or the tribal differences that lead to the same meal being prepared in different ways by different groups. This continued as we switched over to making the Hokey Pokey dessert from New Zealand. As a complement to our CEE cooking class, the team made a cookbook with recipes from all the places we traveled to this summer, which spanned six countries and twelve unique recipes. This book was distributed to attendees, our entire VIH cohort, and is still available as a pdf for anyone who is interested, as well as the recording of the class. This was our way of having our CEE and international experience continue to have an impact after we have moved on from the program.