Kaitlyn Wade spent her summer in Russia, learning about Russian language, culture, and medical system. The Summer Language Institute sent fourteen American students to Moscow for five weeks to more intensively study Russian language and allow students to experience Russian culture in action. While staying in a Moscow State Univeristy dormitory, Kaitlyn interacted with MSU students and housemothers and learned about everything from the Russian educational system to Russian superstitions. She learned to barter at the Arbat, watched a Russian Orthodox service, and even learned to make Russian dolls by hand. In addition to attending daily Russian language and culture classes, she took the opportunity to attend a three-hour roundtable discussion with Moscow State University students regarding differences between Russia and the United States and the misconceptions that prevent open communication and relationships between the two countries. On her weekends, she traveled to a variety of cities outside Moscow, including St. Petersburg and Tver, where she took Russian dancing classes, learned the Russian art of tea drinking, and even won a game of Russian musical chairs with students from the University of Tver! Despite classes conflicting with her hope to volunteer at the local free medical clinic, she took time outside the class to research the Russian medical system by using her teachers, other Russian students, and public policy professors at MSU as resources. She even took the opportunity to visit a Russian pharmacy and discovered how strong the interaction medication and home remedies is in Russia. Kaitlyn is already looking forward to returning to Russia at some point to volunteer and learn more about the differences betweeen how Russian and American medical professionals view the brain.
CEE Title: Your Identity Abroad
One 2015 Cohort CEE was entitled "Your Identity Abroad: Preparing Yourself for the Study Abroad Experience." It was a joint effort on the part of Lexie Brown (South Korea), Amber Montgomery (Jordan), Abby Meinen (Morocco), and Kaitlyn Wade (Russia). This CEE focused on the concepts of identity and mental, emotional, and physical preparation prior to studying abroad. The major learning objective was to encourage our participants to think about their own identity, what they were and were not willing to change in order to adapt to their environment abroad, and how to feel safe mentally and physically during their experiences. In order to bring these points home, the CEE coordinators divided their event into two parts - a roundtable discussion and a self-defense seminar. The roundtable discussion included questions regarding the American identity; how race, gender, and age were viewed in regions around the world; and how people were willing to change in order to adapt to the world around them while they studied abroad. Five additional speakers - three that traveled to Africa, 1 that traveled to Western Europe, and 1 that traveled to Latin America - were recruited to help with these discussions. The discussions were prefaced with a presentation on how the CEE coordinators had experienced the issues of gender, race, and age abroad, and they were closed with a review of the discussions that had taken place at individual tables. Following the roundtable discussions, participants pushed their chairs and tables aside to participate in a discussion of safety abroad and a self-defense seminar with Pitt Police, who had graciously volunteered their time for the evening. Attendees asked questions about weaponry, prevention, and judging situations in order to develop their own situational awareness. In addition, they learned and practiced a series of kicks, strikes, and self-defense maneuvers that would give them the split-second advantage should they be attacked at any point. All in all, the CEE coordinators attempted to create a preparation program for students that planned to study abroad and used their global thinking strategies to develop it.