Olivia Kissell

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Carlow University

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International Experience Summary:

Olivia spent five weeks immersed in the culture of Western Australia. She studied Research Methods and Marine Ecology of Western Australia, which focused on the unique marine environment that is present on the Western Coast. This provided for the perfect setting to teach the fundamentals of research design; moreover, the focus was conservation.Her studies were centered at Murdoch University, located between the cities of Fremantle and Perth. Between these two places, Olivia lived in a flat with other CIEE members where the sustainable and health-conscious culture challenged her thinking and her “normal.”  Because of this, Olivia was able to make connections to her major in nursing while also gaining new knowledge. Olivia spent her first week in Murdoch collecting the basic knowledge of Marine Ecology with her peers in preparation for the future research. Then, Olivia stayed at Yardie Homestead, located in the Ningaloo National Heritage Site. There she would perform research on Giant Clams. When Olivia wasn’t researching in Ningaloo, she was either snorkeling in reefs or hiking in the outback. These opportunities let her see a variety of wildlife: sharks, reef sharks, reef fish, green turtles, dugongs, manta rays, rock wallabies, kangaroos, dingoes, cockatoos, and even more. After a long and adventurous week, she returned to Murdoch where she was able to explore the contrasts between Perth and Fremantle while she continued her studies. Upon her return, she decided to attend a seminar about the reduction of plastic in her personal and professional life. 

During the final week, Olivia conducted two different research studies on vertical zonation of sea life and sand dunes in which improved her statistical analysis skills.  From this experience, Olivia’s knowledge of the environment grew, and now she strongly advocates for the conservation of the oceans. However, her communication skills and love for understanding new cultures, both vital for her career, grew even stronger. This new knowledge helps Olivia with making connections with patients, and her new cultural knowledge inspires her to think about implementing green initiatives in healthcare. Olivia’s learning in Australia exposed her to the very attainable possibilities that would help her implement healthier and sustainable options in her career and in life.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Olivias' Aperitivio

Our CEE, Olivias’ Aperitivo, was a unique take on the concepts of culture and communication among community and waste, specifically single-use plastic and food waste, that were highly present in the countries’ cultures that we studied in, Australia and Italy. To do this we invited select influential individuals in our own professional, educational, and personal Carlow community for a small family-like gathering. With the topics we had in mind as well as the guests carefully picked we chose to create a very intimate setting based on the Italian culture of an Aperitivo, a post-work, pre-dinner get-together shared over food similar to our appetizers, while incorporating Australian sustainability through the use of reusable water bottles, glass reusable plates, donated table cloths, and reusable glass mugs to stay true to our ethical beliefs of reducing waste. As guests filled in we gave each individual a reusable shopping bag with information on waste avoidance inside to both give them a step to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags where guests were asked to place their phones so that they may surround themselves in culture. As guests arrived, those who were there were encouraged to get some food to eat and mingle with other guests. Our guests were to have three discussions that were placed at different tables pertaining to the concepts above at each table encourage guests to reflect on their own experiences in American culture. Between each discussion, people moved tables and sat with new people to a new discussion. We facilitated discussion by having questions pertaining to the topics on the table. On the final discussion we asked tables one by one to get hot chocolate for something called a “TimTam slam” which is a cultural experience from Australia to open our group discussion of community then leading to food waste then to plastic waste. We opened a group discussion where we expressed the experiences that changed our views on the topics from being abroad. Our goal was not to discourage American culture, but it was to enhance it with cultural competence; to enhance it with learning from other cultures. Our thoughts about the Aperitivo’s take on culture is that one person can make extraordinary meaningful change, but they can’t change the world; However, they can inspire and eventually, one becomes two, two becomes three, three becomes four, and so on. That’s how one becomes global.