Sierra McCullough is a junior at Chatham University studying psychology and criminology, while also completing Chatham's international certificate in European studies. Sierra spent the summer in Madrid, Spain, studying the Spanish language and intercultural communications. The Spanish language course aided her in her continued development and understanding of the language. In intercultural communications, she learned how to successfully identify and overcome cultural barriers.
As a woman who has never experienced the world at all while growing up, this scholarship and study abroad trip was a completely life-changing experience. She immersed herself in the culture by attending various cultural places such as Plaza del Sol, Museo de Reina Sofia, El Prado, Parque del Retiro, and many more. These displayed various forms of Spanish art and culture.
Upon arrival in Spain, she immediately felt at home due to the kindness and attentiveness of her peers, host family, and ISA staff. At first, she was very taken aback by the large city life, but it quickly became easy and even fun to navigate and explore. As time continued, she created more and more friendships with locals and fellow American students which made the experience exponentially better.
As for her classes, the host university was very similar to her home university which made becoming acclimated much easier, not only this but the professors were wonderful and helpful also. Her mind was completely molded and changed to become more eager to learn and experience. To conclude, this experience has changed her into an adverse, adaptable, and confident woman.
CEE Title: The Elepephant in the Room; Cultural Constructions of Class
The CEE, The Elephant in the Room: Cultural Constructions of Class, completed by the group and I began on the basis of, ‘Think Globally, Act Locally”. In all of our cultures we witnessed poverty, so therefore we planned a CEE to bring awareness and donations to our own impoverished community. Along with witnessing poverty, we noticed that on our campus there as a large, unspoken social stratification that needed to be brought to awareness. Our CEE took place in the form of an event that had multiple different aspects. It began with us each individually explaining and presenting the impoverished communities in our international experience locations. Since we went to different places internationally, this brought new, and different insights to the issue. This flowed into a guest speaker from First Food and Friends speaking on his organization and the things that may be needed. After the presentation, a donation box was opened up for donations from the group and future donations on campus. Once this was complete, a privilege walk was done to show the stratification between those in the room. The privilege walk opened the next part of our CEE which involved a debriefing and discussion. During the debriefing, self and group evaluation was opened and questioned. Overall, the CEE raised awareness, opened donations for our impoverished community, and forced self-reflection in a place where this often does not happen.