As a Vira I. Heinz Scholarship recipient, Michele Freire completed a two month internship in Prague, Czech Republic. Michele interned at the Czech National Library of Technology (NTK) in the Educational Support Services sector of the library. Michele’s main internship responsibilities as an Instructional Development Curriculum Intern included working with specialized members of the NTK instructional team, help expand English writing curriculum modules, and help support students writing their International Baccalaureate Extended Essay. In addition, Michele completed research requests made by professors teaching at one on the four main technical and science-based universities in Prague. These completed research documents have been used as guiding aids for the students and professors at the technical universities in the Czech Republic and have been made available online for others who would benefit from the research. By volunteering her time at high schools with partnerships with NTK, Michele was able to assist with the reviewing and revising of the literacy materials being utilized in curriculum modules in both public and private Czech high schools. Michele worked with other NTK interns from across the globe, and she would converse daily with three interns from Turkey to help them improve their English conversational skills. Michele also participated in a Czech cultural immersion course in addition to her full time internship, allowing for her to fully immerse herself in the Czech culture while further challenging what is means to be an American living and working abroad. Michele was fortunate enough to travel to seven countries throughout Europe both during and after her program ended. A few of Michele’s highlights from her study abroad experience include walking over the Cliffs of Moher, visiting the Anne Frank House with a fellow Vira, and touring five castles in the Czech Republic.
CEE Title: Art Expression Across Three Nations
The Arcadia University 2017 cohort’s CEE showcased Art Expression Across Three Nations, specifically highlighting art from the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and Spain. Michele Freire (Czech Republic), Michelle Mendia (Spain), and Caitlyn Black (Taiwan) all presented on artistic expression found in the cultures of their respective countries. Each VIH recipient focused on various forms of creative expression found in the culture found in their chosen countries and included important historical information to help convey the significance behind each form of art. Michele Freire presented on contemporary works of art found in Prague, Czech Republic. Michele began her presentation by speaking about the scathing political cartoons found at NTK, the largest and most utilized library in the Czech Republic. She then discussed the John Lennon Wall found in Prague’s Old Town. What began as a space for teenagers to write anti-Communist messages flourished into a monument for peace, love, and unity. Michele ended by showcasing various works of Prague’s “Rebel Artist”, David Cerny. Cerny places sculptures in well-visited areas of Prague in order to create a dialogue on our contemporary society. Famous pieces include giant babies climbing a television tower, a bright pink Soviet tank, and a hand flipping off the current leader of the country as an expression of anger against blatant and open corruption in the nation’s government. Michele highlighted the heavy significance of these contemporary pieces, as they are important because they are free. Artists can no longer be punished for having a voice and expressing themselves, even if the commentary and dialogue they create is not one that places government or state into a positive light. The freedom to create without fear of the oppressor has brought many works of peace and social commentary since the ending of Soviet occupation in Prague after the Velvet Revolution. CEE guests were able to tag themselves on a mini-John Lennon wall, promoting messages of peace, love, and unity--following the same ideals as the original in Prague.