Juniors Paige Carter and Addie Pazzynski were the recipients of the 2015 scholarship from the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, which enabled them to travel abroad over the summer.
Carter, a pre-law major, and Pazzynski, a religion and philosophy major, took trips to South Africa and Jordan, respectively, to immerse themselves and experience the world through a different lens while examining various parts of their area’s culture and history.
For Carter, visiting South Africa was quite a wake-up call in seeing the effects still present from apartheid-era conditions the country faced for many years.
“My high school education presented the concept of colonialism as almost a good thing,” said Carter. “My mind had been trained to associate ‘development’ and ‘success’ with the term, but I had never considered the effects of colonialism as I did in South Africa.”
Carter said one of the more interesting things she learned was about how apartheid really started in the early 1900s, when laws like the Natives’ Land Act seized the property of the indigenous people in order to mine for metals and other natural resources.
Carter also volunteered at a non-governmental organization that helped young adults achieve self-sustaining lifestyles and higher education.
“The immersion of a different culture allowed me to experience a nation progressing by much more than capitalist individualism, which is often defined as the keystone of the American Dream,” said Carter.
When free time emerged, Carter conversed with the locals to ask their opinions on international issues and relations with other countries, in addition to exploring the area outside the city of Cape Town. She also attended a Parliament session and learned traditional South African dance.
For Pazzynski, going to Amman, Jordan, brought with it a culture shock but also an inspiration to continue to grow and be more enriched in her faith.
“My faith has been strengthened beyond measure, for my Arab Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters have inspired me to remain faithful through their enduring legacies as people of faith,” said Pazzynski. “I had the opportunity of staying with a Christian host family while in Jordan. I was initially disappointed since I was looking forward to experiencing daily Muslim life, but I grew to enjoy comparing and contrasting Jordanian Christianity with my own Christian experiences in the States.”
In addition, Pazzynski took classes in Arab studies and learned the Arabic language at a university over the course of about a month. She also was able to visit and learn about various historic, cultural and modern sites throughout the country, including the prosperous city of Dubai – the location where John the Baptist baptized Jesus – and a prominent mosque in the capital city.
Pazzynski also found it was a great learning experience living in Jordan during Ramadan, a very religious time for Muslims. In her spare time, Pazzynski got to explore the local shops and markets, learn calligraphy and also learned how to cook and bake Jordanian food staples.
All in all, both women felt that their international experiences were incredible learning opportunities and were very grateful for the chance they were given to go to the other side of the world. Carter and Pazzynski hope that other young women on campus who are interested in studying abroad will also look into and take advantage of the Vira Heinz scholarship.
For information on this scholarship, contact Pat Bristor at email@example.com. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.