Bridget O'Hara

International Experience Country:
Australia and New Zealand
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Temple University

Heinz Programming Area:
Study Abroad Country: Cohort Year:  Home Institution:  Programming Area: 
International Experience Summary:

Bridget spent two months in the rainforests of Australia, where she studied rainforest management techniques and field research methods. Through cabin living at the Centre for Rainforest Studies in the midst of the Gillies Mountains, Bridget was able to immerse herself in the environment that she studied. She spent time recording the growth of trees subject to different restoration processes, as well as spotlighting for wild possums and tree kangaroos at night. She visited the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world at 180 million years old (the Amazon Rainforest is 55 million years old), and spotted three cassowaries, a dangerous and endangered bird only found in Australia. Bridget was also lucky to take a ten-day trip to New Zealand, where she was welcomed into the homes of various Maori families. Along with learning about the environmental resource management techniques that the Maori have been practicing for hundreds of years, she learned about the Maori’s perspective on their relationship with Earth: to them, humans are considered gatekeepers for the planet, meant to take care of the Earth during their time here. Upon her return to Australia, she met Aboriginals Australia as well, and compared both the resource management techniques and governmental involvement in Indigenous rights in Australia versus New Zealand. Bridget volunteered with local tree-planting and restoration non-profits in both Australia and New Zealand. She also visited and snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, which inspired her to create a research proposal exploring whether the impacts of ecotourism on the reef are more positive, promoting environmental education and awareness, or more negative, causing reef destruction and coral disease. Bridget learned not only from the many amazing Australians and New Zealanders that she met, but from the 18 other students from all over America living at the field station with her, who all interpreted their experiences in different ways. Bridget is excited to bring her new knowledge of resource management techniques and Indigenous environmental mindsets back to America and begin volunteering and implementing change in her own community.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Bye Bye Bias

Bye-Bye Bias was a discussion-based presentation which invited the audience to lean into their understanding of bias within their own lives. It introduced the topic of bias outside of just racism, but within everyday contexts that people may otherwise forget. The event included open discussion within the audience, as well as interactive activities to help audience members identify biases they may not have previously noticed. It also included a showing of the New York Times’ Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism videos. These videos summarize bias in terms of racism, but also expand the topic to discuss research that addresses other types of biases in today’s society. This topic is critical to discuss because it affects every single person, no matter their race, age, or gender. Although rarely discussed in the context of everyday relationships, our implicit biases create polarizing opinions about people that we rarely realize. This discussion was meant to keep people open-minded about the other people in their lives. It also encourages them to look closely at their existing relationships and identify where they may be jumping to conclusions. Through Bye-Bye Bias, the Temple University Vira Heinz 2018 cohort hoped to make implicit bias a more common topic of discussion for people to consider in their day-to-day lives.