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ALYSSA LANG - VIRA HEINZ SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT 2010
Last summer, Alyssa Lang, a junior international studies major, spent six weeks in one of Russia’s most ancient cities as a result of the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership. Established in 1954, the scholarship started as one $1,000 check given each fall to a junior woman at an area university. Today the Vira I. Heinz Foundation offers several $5,000 scholarships to women at 16 local and regional colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Living with a Russian family who spoke little English, Lang was forced out of her comfort zone but quickly recognized the importance of self-confidence, determination and hard work. Regardless of the struggles, Lang said her time in Velikiy Novgorod, Russia, made a lasting impression on her life.
“Far removed from all emotional and spiritual support, I learned how to encourage myself on a daily basis to complete the tasks at hand and became fully dependent on God for the strength and courage to do so,” she said.
As a result, Lang had the opportunity to discover the beauty of the Russian culture as she developed relationships with “intriguing Russian professors and students.” The hospitality and openness of the culture taught Lang to value relationships, but also revealed the hurt and brokenness of the Russian culture — the result of seven decades of communism and church oppression.
KAITLIN EDWARDS - VIRA HEINZ SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT 2010
Before traveling to England, I had always assumed the United Kingdom was very similar to the United States. I realized shortly after I had arrived that I could not have been more wrong, and that it was not just the accents that made us culturally different. The way we acted, thought, and even ate were different and it was a very enlightening adventure
Throughout the six and a half weeks I spent abroad, I was able to travel to England, Ireland, and Scotland, as well as several other places including Paris, France, and Wales. I was able to explore the culture of these various places and was able to see many different styles of living. From the mountains of Scotland to the cliffs in Ireland, I was also able to experience breathtaking scenery.
I have learned a lot from being able to study abroad. When traveling, a person has to not only be willing to visit new and foreign places, but they also have to be willing to immerse themselves in the culture. This has helped shape my views on cultures in other countries as well as how I view foreign affairs.
By studying abroad, I want to continue my passion for traveling all over the world and to continue increasing my knowledge. Without this opportunity, I would also be significantly less confident in my abilities to be independent, especially while traveling.
“Traveling and seeing new places is one of the best gifts a person can receive,” said an English journalist currently working in London, England, who I met while traveling.
JENNA POUNDS - UGANDAN STUDIES PROGRAMME
Spending four months in Africa with the Ugandan Studies Programme was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. Throughout the semester, the other American students and I had the opportunity to study the African culture while forming relationships with our Ugandan friends and host families.
We were introduced to many aspects of Ugandan culture that pushed us out of our comfort zone. These experiences ranged from learning how to bathe out of a basin to seeing the affects of witchcraft first hand. The faculty of USP used these experiences to encourage us to view the world through a different lens.
We constantly tried to see issues such as politics and religion from a Ugandan’s perspective and discover how their worldview affects their values and beliefs. We were asked to look at our American worldview and how it affects our actions and Christianity in America. Most importantly, we were challenged to take everything that we had experienced and incorporate it into our faith. This is not at all an easy task, but as the director told us on the first day of orientation, “USP is not about simple answers in pretty packages.”