Latoya Cottingham

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Lincoln University

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Throughout the month that Latoya Cottingham spent in Costa Rica, she gained much insight into the educational system. She volunteered at a local elementary school, and she aided the teachers and students by speaking English with the children in their classes. Latoya realized major differences between the education systems in the United States and in Costa Rica. She witnessed some of the harsh learning conditions that the schoolchildren faced inside the classrooms. Most classrooms had very bad lighting and the heat in some of the classrooms was almost unbearable. Latoya tried to find simple solutions to the problems by speaking with the teachers. Along with playing games with the students and helping them with their English assignments, Latoya also spoke with the kids about the importance of staying in school and earning good grades. Latoya’s international experience has had a profound impact on shaping her career goals.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Without a Trace

 In an attempt to enlighten our community on a global issue that also has a great impact on our society, my team and I decided to engage our community in a formal event which included comfortable activities to better inform the crowd on the issue at hand. The global issue that we decided lead our community in improving was drug trafficking. Although drugs are not often trafficked through America, the final destination of the drugs is habitually the United States. We hoped to bring significant attention to the issue within our communities, and for each person who attended the event. If we can stop the drug abuse in the United States, leading to a major decrease in drug trafficking to the country, then the countries who are involved in sending drugs to the United States will no longer have the vehicle to traffic drugs. Our CEE project, “Without a Trace”, focused on informing the audience on what drug trafficking is, what it entails, and who it affects.  We prepared brochures on drug trafficking in our respective study abroad countries as the guests entered the event. Next, we introduced our guest speaker, Officer Thompson along with his K-9 dog. He spoke about drug trafficking, what happens after it is trafficked, how he catches perpetrators, and the penalties that they may face. Then, we conducted a panel, which consisted of faculty from various countries, other than the United States. They explained how drug trafficking has impacted their lives and the lives of the people of their native countries. We then served select dishes from our particular study abroad countries, Peru, Spain, and Costa Rica. After the food was served, we had the audience split into two groups and took turns either playing jeopardy, or discussing the subject at the round tables that we set up. Once this was over, we debriefed, encouraged the audience to continue on a journey to raise awareness with the hope to end drug trafficking. We thanked the panelists, Officer Thompson, and Ms. Lundy and then concluded the program. It was a very successful affair.