Global Affairs Club

During my time at the University of Pittsburgh I endeavored to help build a community among Global Studies students by creating a platform through which we could meet and discuss current global affairs. I co-founded the Global Affairs Club, which was active beginning in my Junior year, to address this need and contribute to developing the Global Studies student community. The club organized discussions concerning relevant current global affairs and invited faculty to help facilitate the discussion. Some of the topics we covered in our meetings were the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjing Province in China, the prospects of the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the potential detriments of participating in voluntourism, among others. The meetings provided a community to collaboratively discuss these topics and collectively come to a better understanding of the events shaping global affairs.  I served as President of the club in my senior year.

Amy Foundation

While I was studying abroad in South Africa, I volunteered at the Amy Foundation. This organization ran after-school programs for students in the townships around Cape Town, the underdeveloped neighborhoods where black Africans were forcibly displaced to during apartheid. I reflected on my experience in the Study Abroad page, but I would like to add that the opportunity to volunteer confronted me with the political, economic, and social realities of faced by the population that I was working with. The historical circumstances that frame the current conditions reflect the intersection of power with economic and political processes in the local context. It also explains many of the current problems faced by the population today, including chronic unemployment, gang violence, and political corruption. It made me aware of the benefits and drawbacks of my own contributions. Although my time volunteering supported the efforts of the Amy Foundation on a small and local scale, more drastic actions are needed at the structural level to advance more transparent and effective governance and economic reforms.

Homewood Children's Village

During my Junior year I was honored to be selected to participate in the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars program, which partnered me with a local organization to address an issue within the community. I was partnered with the Homewood Children’s Village throughout the year to address a number of local concerns. The first project we attempted to work on was developing a session for Pittsburgh’s 2018 Inclusive Innovation Week. We faced several obstacles in developing the session, however, and were unable to follow through. With the remaining time transitioned to a new project to develop a policy brief on tiny houses. Our goal was to prepare a policy memo addressing the viability and limitations of promoting tiny houses in Pittsburgh as an alternative affordable housing and wealth-building vehicle. Our research identified the restrictions in the city zoning codes that would need to be amended to allow for the construction of tiny houses. We also compiled research on best practices concerning tiny houses as a solution for affordable housing and financial well-being. My time with the Homewood Children’s Village taught me several lessons. The first is the unpredictability of working at a community organization. As management, funding, and external factors changed we had to adapt our projects to meet the evolving circumstances. My experience also gave me exposure to the breadth of political and economic barriers faced by relatively underprivileged neighborhoods. I appreciated the opportunity to uncover some of these obstacles and contribute to their removal.