Dedra Totin

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Johnstown

Heinz Programming Area:
Economic Opportunity
International Experience Summary:

Dedra’s experience as a whole was entirely eye-opening and educational.  She had many difficulties mentally with the transition of living in an entirely different country and not knowing a soul before going.  The realization of needing to be more independent came to be when she knew there was no other choice.  She learned how to be a young independent and strong woman.  As the time progressed, she realized that there was no task too small and if she wanted to achieve it, she would.  Her internship with Parliament opened doors that she did not even know existed.  She was able to see what she did and did not like to see herself doing in her career.  Prior to this trip, she had aspirations for working with a politician.  However, after working with a Member of Parliament, she realized that is not what she strives to do, but more so the helping aspect of the job.  She wants to hear a problem and try her best to find ways to solve it.  What helped her become more independent was doing things on her own rather than waiting on people to help assist her or group with her to do simple tasks and site seeing, she just simply went by herself.  This was a great learning experience because it not only taught her how to better navigate but also that independence she has always wanted to achieve but would not have otherwise without this traveling experience.  Through her traveling abroad, she has learned the that there are so many more cultures and sites in which she is anxious to visit, perhaps in a job/humanitarian setting.  

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

For our CEE, we chose to make a varied cultural event that displayed several different cultures and traditions like we had seen in London, England.  For the week leading up the event, we had a different international dish served everyday in the cafeteria including Beef Friend Rice, Asparagus Salad, and Tikka Masala.  This week was intended to lead up to our main event that was held on a Saturday afternoon.  During our CEE, we had various international workshops and events that took place in which the local community and student population could attend.  The workshops included “International Bingo,”  “Make You Own Mandarin Chinese Symbol,” and various other international board games.  During these workshops, Fried Plantains were served to enrich the cultural experience as well as various cultures’ music and photos were played and put on display in the form of a slideshow.  During the same time of the workshops, we had several interactive events for everyone to participate.  These events included Yoga, in which an instructor from the area performed simple Yoga poses and explained their significance; African drumming and dancing, in which an instructor interactively participated with the student and taught them how certain tribes in Africa perform their dance and music rituals; and finally, young Indian women from the area performed “Bollywood” dancing and showed those who attended how they put together their dance.  Both the student population and community were invited to attend.