Eden Hailu

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

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

Eden spent five weeks in Iringa, Tanzania studying public health, East African culture and Swahili. While living at the Primary Health Care Institute (PHCI), a public college campus for Tanzanian students, Eden was able to befriend many Tanzanian students and immerse herself into a completely different college experience. She built lasting relationships with both students and professors at PHCI and introduced them to her American lifestyle while simultaneously being introduced to their lifestyle. She especially enjoyed learning about their personal goals and favorite musical artists. On the weekends, she would travel to various towns where she noticed the differences between rural villages and a more urban Tanzania which she was accustomed to. She spent one of her weekends in Lulanzi, a rural village in Tanzania, where she participated in a number of cultural immersion activities. She met a traditional healer who openly shared his methods, beliefs and his personal path into becoming a traditional healer. Traditional healers have a significant role in Tanzanian society so she was incredibly excited to hear from the perspective of a traditional healer. Additionally, she toured a hospital in Lulanzi, and see first-hand how a rural hospital operates. She also learned how to weave baskets from rural women who sell their handmade baskets for a living. At PHCI, Eden participated in weekly evening cultural classes where Tanzanian and American students had the chance to freely ask each other questions regarding culture and the different stereotypes that surrounded each culture. She listened to hear their explanations of various traditions and beliefs upheld in Tanzania and developed an appreciation for how diverse Tanzania truly is. Eden also pursued her own research analyzing the barriers young women in rural parts of Tanzania face when trying to pursue a formal education. Through interviews with local university professors and students, she gained an intimate view of the numerous obstacles within the education system and Tanzanian culture that prevent young women from obtaining the level of education they desire. Before returning to the U.S, Eden spent four days on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania where she experienced an entirely different culture than Iringa. Eden is incredibly grateful for all her experiences in Tanzania because it all helped her grow as a young woman. She returns to the U.S with a new sense of confidence that she can overcome any obstacle that stands in her way.  

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Breaking Down Invisible Barriers

An Interactive Event, took place on January 10th, 2018 at the University of Pittsburgh-Oakland campus. With the support of the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship, Eden Hailu, Katelyn Axman, Ra'van Williams, Courtney Yu and Moira Larkin each studied abroad in a different part of the world this past summer where they learned about obstacles directly affecting specific minority groups in that country. The phrase invisible barrier is defined as the underlying traditional norms and values that prevent marginalized groups from fully participating in society. Courtney began the CEE by shedding light on the beauty standards she noticed during her time in South Korea and how prevalent plastic surgery was there. She shared a few of the things she experienced as someone who did not fit into their standard of beauty such as the stares and obvious judgement she received while just walking down the street. She finished up her presentation using an app popular in South Korea to take a picture of one of the attendees, and display how some of the filters would completely alter one's look to fit into the South Korean beauty standard. Next, Eden brought attention to the way gender roles in traditional Tanzanian culture were preventing rural Tanzanian girls from pursuing an education. She also discussed the belief held by many in rural parts of Tanzania that educating girls was just not worth it, which she learned about through interviews with native Tanzanian women. She ended her presentation with a game of Jeopardy where the audience was split into two teams and had to recall facts from her presentation. Moira followed up with her presentation regarding the lack of wheelchair access to many buildings in Iceland and Pittsburgh. She incited very thoughtful discourse when she asked the audience to create a path for people who require a wheelchair to get to certain buildings on campus and many people learned that the only wheelchair accessible dorms were all the way on upper campus. Katelyn and Ra'van worked together to present the troubles immigrants, refugees and international students have integrating into a different society when there are language and cultural barriers in play. They used a fun game of rock, paper, scissor, spock (from the Big Bang Theory) to exemplify how difficult is to communicate with people of a new culture when you are coming in with your own set of rules.