Christina Toval

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Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

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International Experience Summary:

Christina studied seven weeks in Rome, Italy living near the center of the city in an area called Campo de’ Fiori. She lived an apartment amongst other Italian families and made a home there. She spent her time there volunteering with the Caritas Roma at two of their food kitchens. The first three weeks of her time in Rome she volunteered at a day cantina right by the Colosseum. She was able to have a complete immersion in the culture and learn the Italian language for the first time through hands on experience. Through her time at the cantina, she saw up close how the economic and migration issues presented in the Italian community. The cantinas served not only Italians, but migrants from countries in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central America. Despite the language barrier, she spent her time learning about the people from all different backgrounds. Migration in recent years has been a controversial topic in Italy, but her work with the Caritas Roma allowed her to hear the perspective of native Italians and migrants. During the last four weeks, she volunteered at a nighttime cantina in the center city behind the major train station in Rome. There she saw many of the same people from the previous cantina and built meaningful relationship with them. She became a constant figure that people in that community counted on seeing. In her free time, she was able to see the cultural sites of Rome. One of them being the Scala Sancta, the stairs Jesus climbed during persecution, which were unveiled for the time in hundreds of years for people to pray on and climb.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: SOS: Sustain our Societies

This CEE is focused on the different ways we experienced sustainability in the countries we visited and bringing that knowledge back to our local community. The sustainability issues our countries face are very different from each other as well as those in America. Many people in our local community have a limited view of sustainability. The goal was to expose our local community to what sustainability looks like around the world. We want to bring the knowledge we learned from around the world to our local community, so they can broaden their view as well. We made this an interactive project allowing the participants to come up to us and create a conversation about what sustainability can look like around the world. For Italy, we discussed the intersectionality of sustainability and social attitudes. For South Africa, we discussed the intersectionality of sustainability and poverty. For Ecuador, we discussed the intersectionality of sustainability and the environment. For China, we discussed the intersectionality of sustainability and culture. We engaged people’s thoughts through a cultural workshop. Then we have people engage in activity to help sustainability by decorating tote bags.