Amanda Shaheen, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, spent seven weeks in London, England completing an internship with Shelter Charitable Organization. While in London, Amanda had the opportunity to live in the culturally rich city, where she immersed herself in the culture of many renowned authors. As an English Literature major, with a strong desire to be an English professor, living in the same city that William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Charles Dickens, brought some of the worlds greatest novels to life; thus giving Amanda a better understanding of literature, which is essential to be an effective professor. While Amanda is grateful for the opportunity to leave London with a better grasp of a multitude of the words greatest literary works, working with Shelter Charitable Organization, was the most rewarding experience. Homelessness is a growing social issue in the United Kingdom, as there is a severe housing crisis and with a declining economy, many people are finding themselves at risk of homelessness. Shelter works to help people stay in their homes or find them alternative housing, so that they are not forced into street homelessness. While interning at Shelter, Amanda worked with the Event Planning team to organize fundraising events. The London Marathon and Night Rider are two very large events that Amanda worked with. Amanda found the experience to be extremely rewarding, and is grateful for the opportunity to help people, while also learning so much about the culture that makes London, England unique.
Through our Community Engagement Experience, we provided students, faculty and staff in the Pitt-Johnstown community the opportunity to explore different cultures from across the world and further their knowledge of international foods and activities. Some of the activities included were African games such as Mancala, African drumming and dancing, Indian “Bollywood” dancing, and different variations of yoga from across the world. Additionally, we provided opportunities for students to try different foods from across the world in the Pitt-Johnstown cafeteria. International students from India, Ghana, Nigeria, and China provided us with their favorite recipes from their home country and the food services staff took on the challenge of sharing these foods with everyone in the campus community. International students at Pitt-Johnstown formed a club called “Meet Diversity,” so we partnered with member of the club to bring international games and foods to Pitt-Johnstown, while also giving domestic students the opportunity to meet international students. Several faculty and staff members attended our event, entitled “Around the World in 6 Days,” and each person was interested in the games and other activities taking place. Many students participated in crafts, such as painting Mandarin Chinese symbols, playing African Games, and participating in World Bingo, featuring well-known landmarks from across the world. The event provided us with the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the world and to form friendships with international students. Educating members of the Pitt-Johnstown community was one of our biggest goals, and by creating a fun and interactive event, foreign and domestic students at Pitt-Johnstown have a better understanding of the world, and most importantly of each other.