Making international connections in Philadelphia
For many, being an International Studies major implies leaving campus far behind in favor of more exotic locales, and Katelyn Wellnitz '14 did just that, travelling to Granada, Spain in her sophomore year of study in the program. However, International Studies also entails connecting the foreign to the local. Upon returning from her semester in Granada, Katelyn strove to expand upon her international experience by taking advantage of local international connections and applying her global education to her work in the greater Philadelphia community.
“You can be an International Studies student and want to be involved in international things, but not necessarily have to leave home,” Katelyn explained.
The Honors Program presented an opportunity to access Philadelphia’s international community through a student-led leadership project. By working with Philadelphia refugee organizations such as the Nationalities Services Center and Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition, students organized a coat drive and community awareness events, including a panel of speakers and a short film screening to highlight the presence and role of refugees in the greater Philadelphia community. Katelyn presented the group’s work at the annual Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education academic conference. Katelyn considers the experience a small eye-opener to the international refugee community in the city, saying “the project showed me another side of Philadelphia.”
Through the Philadelphia community, Katelyn also continues to pursue her interest in sustainability, sparked by her environmental sustainability curriculum in Grenada. In courses such as Global Cities: Politics & Policy, taught by Dr. Amy Widestrom, Katelyn studied the impact of the Philadelphia transportation system on the sustainability of the city as a whole. With the assistance of Dr. Hilary Parsons Dick, Katelyn applied for and received grants from the Pan-American Association of Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium, allowing her to study sustainability while working for a month in a sustainable hostel in Costa Rica. In December 2013, Katelyn presented her work to the Consortium in Philadelphia, and in January 2014, Katelyn returned to Costa Rica, this time with the global field study course Sustainable Development in Costa Rica, taught by Dr. Amy Cox.
While travel has been a significant component of her education, experiences abroad have been intertwined with important local experiences and opportunities in the diverse Philadelphia community. Looking back on her Arcadia experience, Katelyn reflects, “You can be involved in really amazing international connections and still live in Philadelphia.”
Historical & Political Studies
Easton Hall, Room 231
Dr. Peter Siskind, Dept. Chair