Terra Teets spent four weeks studying German language as well as modern German philosophy at the Freie Universitat Berlin International Summer University (FUBiS). She focused much of her time working to achieve more fluency in written and spoken German and had the opportunity to speak German on a daily basis. She was also able to build international connections and participate in intellectual community through her philosophy class. She absorbed philosophical perspectives from around the world, and built confidence in sharing her own. She soon realized the importance of feminism in the field of philosophy as one of four (out of fourteen) non-men in the class. She led a course-period dialogue titled "A Feminist Retrospective on German Philosophy" as her final project. She also had the opportunity to continue her self-study of poetics, writing a paper on objectivity as a theme in German poetics and producing poems influenced both by structures in German analytical philosophy and grammatical structures not common in contemporary English. The FUBiS program attracted students from over forty different countries, so she was able to participate in cross-cultural exchange with new friends from France, Brazil, India, South Africa, Slovakia, China, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. She found Berlin to be a vibrant, accessible, and ultimately global city which challenged her previous conceptions surrounding cultural relations.
CEE Title: The Elephant in the Room: Cultural Constructions of Class
The Elephant in the Room: Cultural Constructions of Class explored how socioeconomic status is culturally mediated as well as how the effects of income inequality vary throughout the world. The 2019 Chatham University Vira Heinz cohort shared both research and personal accounts of income disparity they individually witnessed in multiple cities in Nepal, Madrid, Spain, and Berlin, Germany. Their CEE centered around two concepts: “think globally & act locally” as well as “the personal is political”. They began with the initial goal to tie in a personal understanding of socioeconomic class for their audience. Therefore, they led and participated in a privilege walk and facilitated small group debriefs for the participants. They also partnered with a community organization called First Food and Friends, which provides free meals for the food insecure of Pittsburgh. The audience learned the most pertinent needs of this vulnerable group and the organization which serves them. These needs include volunteers, political advocacy for protection of particularly vulnerable groups like the elderly, and new clothes for the homeless population the organization serves. The cohort’s goals developed, becoming focused on making a personal impact on each audience member, encouraging the audience to participate locally in helping those facing poverty in Pittsburgh, and to increase the audience’s knowledge on the impacts of poverty globally. During the debrief period, many participants shared they had never participated in a privilege walk activity before. The cohort brought both a new discussion and innovative format for personal reflection to their campus community. They hope they have spurred more conversation pertaining to this topic on their campus!