University of Pittsburgh | JohnstownBio:
Alyssa Flowers spent four weeks taking a course on Irish society and culture at Dublin City University. Throughout the four weeks, Alyssa was able to learn various elements of Ireland’s history that have influenced its culture and society today, including the impact of colonization, the Great Famine, and the Troubles. Through the CIEE Study Abroad Program, Alyssa was also able to visit sites that provided a tangible connection between class instruction and the real world, like the Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, King John’s Castle in Limerick, and Belfast – where she took a Black Taxi Tour that illustrated how divisive the Troubles were, and in some ways still are, in Northern Ireland. Even though it was at some points distressing to learn about Ireland’s history, she still gained irreplicable knowledge and valuable firsthand experiences about Irish culture and society. In her free time, Alyssa visited many of Dublin’s natural attractions. This allowed her to learn how to navigate on her own while also immersing herself in Irish culture at places like Howth Beach and Pheonix Park. She also visited many historical sites like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College. Alyssa’s time in Ireland not only encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone but also nurtured her critical thinking and social skills.
CEE Title: Reading Globally
“Reading Globally” was an event designed to broaden the perspectives of its attendees by stressing the importance of literature produced by authors all around the world. World literature not only provides its readers with a safe place to encounter tough ideas, but it also encourages readers to have an open mind. This CEE emphasized how crucial it is to read works written by women, the LGBTQ+ community, and BIPOC authors because content created by these communities often fosters the understanding that may not be readily available to attendees living in a small, conservative town. The two Johnstown Vira’s, Courtney Walsh and Alyssa Flowers gave respective PowerPoint presentations on literature and education in their host country (Ireland) and facilitated a round-table discussion about the impact a Eurocentric-leaning education has on the average person’s global outlook. The goal of the event was to get attendees to consider the ways in which their reading education has influenced how they see and interact in the world, as well as how they interact with the people in it. Although attendance was small, those that did attend were eager to share their thoughts and feelings with the Viras, and seemingly came away from the event with a greater understanding of what World Literature is, and why it is important.