Kaitlyn Shirey

Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
Home Institution: 
Chatham University
Heinz Programming Area: 
Study Abroad Country: 
Community Engagement Experience
CEE Title: 
What Do You Do?

       To engage our community, we invited members of Chatham's campus to an evening of skits and discussions about the behaviors that lead to sustainable communities.  Each member of our cohort wrote a skit for the three of us to perform, set in the country that we studied abroad in: Iceland, Scotland, and Cuba.  Besides showing off some culturally specific outfits, like a sweater made from Icelandic wool, these skits illustrated how individuals in that country contribute to their overall carbon footprint.  This involved both the good behaviors that each person takes part in and the more negative ones, and covered topics ranging from renewable energy to littering.  Acting out some of these behaviors provided some humor and broke the ice with our audience, and we followed each skit with a short discussion.  Integrating trivia questions and a continuum taped out on the floor, we asked audience members about what they thought and did in regards to the different subjects: water usage, sewage, plastic bags, smoking, and littering.  This allowed us to present new information about life in Iceland, Scotland, and Cuba while also connecting what we learned to our own lives here in Pittsburgh.  The audience was able to participate both vocally and physically by placing themselves on the continuum.  Following the final skit, the Director of University Sustainability at Chatham took to the podium to drive home the message that individuals have a lot of potential to make their communities more environmentally friendly.  She talked about the efforts that Chatham makes to be sustainable, strategies that community members can use and teach others about, and easy ways to be more mindful citizens.  She focused a lot on the behaviors that we each have that we barely think about: the duration of a shower, the frequency of purchasing fast food, the disposal of cigarette butts, and so on.  We ended the night taking questions and suggestions from the audience about how Chatham can keep working to be more sustainable, from adding compost bins to the library to labeling recycling cans more clearly in the café and dining hall.

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