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CEEConnect: CzechMates
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Faith Gongaware

Liberal Arts Major(s): Global and International Studies
Other Major: Supply Chain and Information Systems
Minor: International Business, Engineering Design
Hometown: Export, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience so far has been encountering people from all over the world. I was surprised by how many other international students I was able to meet at Masaryk University; even within the first week I had met students from Italy, Poland, the UK, Australia, China, and many other countries. Interacting with so many people experiencing a new culture and lifestyle, who all came from different cultures already, has been amazingly impactful on my understanding of this experience as a whole. Specifically, I had an incredibly meaningful interaction recently with a girl named Karina from Russia. After hanging out at a coffee shop, we ended up spending the whole day together laughing and realizing how similar we are despite all the differences between the countries we come from. Such experiences have helped me to cultivate a greater empathy toward people from different cultures and opened my eyes to the ways in which we can all connect in spite of the distance between us.

Such experiences have helped me to cultivate a greater empathy toward people from different cultures and opened my eyes to the ways in which we can all connect in spite of the distance between us

How did this experience impact you academically?

Living and learning in another country has taught me a lot about communicating in a multicultural environment and how to effectively adapt in order to continue my education. Interacting with classmates from around the world has shown me a wider array of personalities and opinions and helped me to deepen my understanding of many of the issues we are presented with in class and how they relate to my major of Global and International Studies. This has taught me the value of and ability to learn from people of different cultures in virtually every subject and has influenced me to want to look for more opportunities to interact with international students in my studies back home.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Working at IBM this semester has taught me greatly about corporate culture, and specifically, corporate culture in my area of interest of a large company driving business innovation on an international scale. The concepts I have learned about project management and other business disciplines have helped me prepare for my future in business, and working in an office with over 90 nationalities represented has taught me how to most effectively exist in a multicultural workplace. Overall, my time here has most impacted my career goals by reinforcing my passion for intercultural issues and my desire to work globally.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows' continual support of Scholars helped encourage me to pursue my options in studying abroad, and the diligent work of Liberal Arts advisers and staff (s/o to Chelsea Keen!) greatly affected my ability to find the best program for me. Furthermore, Paterno Fellows' funding made a huge difference in allowing me to partake in this life changing experience. The enrichment funding I received significantly lessened the financial burden of study abroad and allowed me to focus on financing other aspects of my study abroad, such as traveling to other destinations while there. Overall, the support of Paterno Fellows has been immensely instrumental in creating an opportunity for me to travel outside of my comfort zone, meet and learn from new people all over the world, and engage in personal growth that will affect the rest of my life.

To learn more about Faith's study abroad experience, check out her blog: https://justczechingin.weebly.com/

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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