Students Abroad

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Center for International Affairs
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
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Student Abroad Profiles

Snapshots from the 2010-2011 School Year

Alissa Ostrove

CWRU '12, International Studies

Alissa Ostrove Alissa Ostrove spent the fall and spring of 2010 studying abroad in South Africa. During her time there she volunteered through Watergarden, an organization based in Klapmuts, a community which is mostly made up of migrant farm workers from wineries in the area. She writes: "My specific work with the pre-primary school children was basically an effort to supplement the sub-standard public education. Specifically I worked on improving the children's motor and cognitive abilities, reading skills, and instilling positive values and self esteem.  The hope is to allow these kids to succeed academically, to promote their confidence and the development of positive value systems which may decrease the likelihood of future gang involvement or substance abuse, and begin to uplift the community out of poverty. I spent 3 hours a week after school, during which I gained a newfound sense of gratitude, learned a tremendous amount about myself and about working with children from a radically different background. I had so many fun experiences I will never forget (teaching them the "Hokey Pokey" is the memory that comes to mind)..." During her time in South Africa, she also volunteered to execute the first ever TED conference in Africa where eleven speakers presented innovative ideas or concepts impacting Africa.

Sarah Counihan

CWRU '12, Civil Engineering

Sarah Counihan In the summer of 2010, Sarah Counihan spent seven weeks in Mbale, Uganda, from June through August volunteering through an organization called Operation Crossroads Africa (OCA). OCA was founded in 1957 and served as the model for the Peace Corps. Today, the organization sends young people abroad to work with a small group of people in the local community. "I spent six weeks in Mbale, Uganda working for a local non-profit. We worked to install a fence-line around a special needs school in order to allow the school to gain government recognition and funding for the students. During my time in Mbale, I lived and worked as a member of the local community, getting to know many of the children and learning what life was like. If given the opportunity - I would do it again in a heartbeat!"

Polina Gokun

CWRU '12, Polymer Science and Engineering

Polina Gokun In the summer of 2010 Polina traveled to Terrassa, Barcelona, to work in the Centre Catala del Plastic (CCP) on Aerogels through her research group headed by David Schiraldi in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Department. "Since the CCP was geared towards more of an engineering lab, rather than a synthesis lab, I helped set up the method for creating the Aerogels out of clay and Polyvinyl alcohol. I also modified the freezing system, which actually crystallized the the Aerogels more uniformly. I tested the Aerogels using a variety of mechanical characterizations, including one method we currently do not have at Case. The process overall was enlightening, but frustrating at times, just because I'm used to working with more advanced lab equipment in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering department at Case. However, this experience really helped me get an insight on how science is done in other countries, while building my patience and relations with people of diverse backgrounds."

Radhika Mehlotra

CWRU '13, International Studies, Environmental Studies, and Spanish

"I volunteered in Mama's Carmen's Orphanage in Guatemala City, Guatemala for 14 days. The orphanage has about 80 children total (ranging from infants to a college student). Many of them are legally adopted by Mama Carmen herself. I volunteered through Cross-Cultural Solutions and my job was to keep the kids occupied during the day while the adults worked. We played, read, colored, learned English, etc. etc. A tremendous eye-opening experience, and I can't wait to go back!"
Radhika Mehlotra Radhika Mehlotra

Jugnu Shrestha

CWRU '12, Biochemistry and International Studies

Jugnu Shrestha "I traveled to Cruce de Blanco, a small village in the Dominican Republic, with the CWRU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Our group was working on a water project in the area in order to provide clean water to the village. I was involved with public health aspect of the organization. We did lesson plans on health and sanitation in the school and in the village, and also conducted surveys to determine other needs of the community. The times I spent in Cruce has been one of the most memorable in my college career."

Michelle Sing

CWRU '11, Polymer Science and Engineering

Michelle Sing Michelle Sing worked as a Polymer REU student at the Adolphe Merkle Institute in Fribourg, Switzerland for 12 weeks this past summer. "My project focused on upconversion via a process called triplet-triplet-annihilation, where a medium hit by low-energy light will emit high-energy light. I was trying to suspend a medium of upconverting dyes in polymeric nanoparticles which might be used for drug-delivery processes which are less harmful to human tissue. I learned a lot about conducting my own research experiment - asking questions, making mistakes, getting help, and etc... - as well as about living on my own in a foreign country."