Kaitlin Zapel

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Bradford

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Kaitlin volunteered at a daycare center named Centro Infantil Mi Tía (which translates roughly to “My Aunt’s Daycare”), where she worked with children between the ages of four months and fifteen years.  By lending an extra set of hands and eyes, she gave relief to the teachers and directors, who often had to care for ten to fifteen children alone.  She colored, played games, and taught them English; she also donated supplies so they could continue these activities after she left.  Kaitlin immersed herself in Costa Rican culture by studying the food, dance, and language at a respected university.  In addition, she had the opportunity to plant a tree in a secondary rain forest while learning about the threats of deforestation for farming and the positive aspects of conservation.  Kaitlin also spent much of her time in the local artisan market, where she interviewed the vendors and customers.  She visited museums several times a week to understand how Costa Rican culture is portrayed in a formal setting.  In her spare time, Kaitlin learned about Costa Rican culture from long conversations with her host mom.  She attended Catholic mass and a soccer game and participated in a pilgrimage with her host mother.  As the country is relatively small (the size of West Virginia), Kaitlin was able to travel and get to know the natural beauty well.  She broke out of her comfort zone by navigating a city of one and a half million people; she expanded her horizons by ocean kayaking, zip lining (she is terrified of heights!), and surfing.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Branch Out