“I’ve really enjoyed having a community of folks who are going through a similar thing that I am in the sense that we’re all living in a new city and serving with new partnerships and we’re all recently graduated. We are able to support each other and talk about what we’re going through.”
Erin Zehr completed her undergraduate degree at Allegheny College with a major in Global Health Studies and a minor in Spanish. During a study abroad program, Erin served as an intern with Misión Scalabriniana in Ecuador where she created extra-curricular programs for migrant children and assessed immigrant women’s ability to access their rights. As a student at Allegheny she volunteered with Student Health Advocates for Refugee Empowerment, in which she assisted refugee families in adapting to a new culture through empowerment and education. In her free time, Erin enjoys cooking, watercolor, hiking, and yoga. Erin is a part of the South Hilltop cohort and serves at Global Links. Erin was interviewed by Lucy Friedman-Bell.
Lucy: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?
Erin: I would say that being in PULSE has forced me to be intentional in forming relationships. Something about trying to not spend any money creates a more creative dynamic of thinking, including ways we can have fun and ways to engage without spending money. I find that that actually encourages activities that are more community-centric like attending community festivals or free outdoor music. In some ways, spending a lot of money on things encourages a more self-centered, exclusive circle of people that you’re interacting with. If you’re intentional about not spending money, it feels like you can be more connected to your community.
Lucy: What have you enjoyed most about living in community? How have you and your housemates pushed/encouraged one another?
Erin: For me, I’ve really enjoyed having a community of folks who are going through a similar thing that I am. We’re all living in a new city, serving with new partnerships and we’re all recently graduated. We are able to support each other and talk about what we’re going through. I think that if I had just graduated and moved out on my own, I would feel really isolated, and I’m really grateful for the community that I have in my house. And more specifically, I really love cooking and eating together. My house is also just super goofy, so we laugh a lot.
Lucy: What have you enjoyed most about your nonprofit partnership?
Erin: I’ve really enjoyed applying some of the things that I studied in college to “the real world.” It feels really gratifying to know that I can apply many of the things that I spent so much time studying, but I also have equally enjoyed learning a lot of new things. My coworkers and supervisor have been really supportive in helping me learn and also acknowledging the skills that I do have. And finally, I think the nonprofit that I’m serving with is doing really good work that is actually having a tangible impact in populations that have needs for medical supplies. I like feeling like I’m part of something positive.
Lucy: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?
Erin: Oh, gosh. I don’t even know. I’m super lucky because all of my housemates are great chefs and have made something different for dinner basically every week. Two house favorites are curry and chili cornbread bake.
Lucy: How do you like to spend your morning and evening commute?
Erin: I listen to WYEP, which is the independent music radio station here in Pittsburgh. I actually met a woman who works there who did her service there with PULSE 10 years ago!
Lucy: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?
Erin: There’s too many to pick one. A favorite was the Hilltop with the Lid Off festival in my neighborhood of Allentown one of the first weekends we were here in Pittsburgh. During the day we perused local art, had some tasty vegan tacos, went out for a dinner at Leon’s Caribbean, and then stumbled upon a crazy concert/dance party in a warehouse.
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