I love that Pittsburgh is kind of a hidden treasure and takes a bit to figure out–from sneaky turn lanes and Pittsburgh lefts to all of the different neighborhoods that each have their own distinct character. To use John Green’s words, “I fell in love [with Pittsburgh] the way you fall asleep; slowly, and then all at once.”
Julia Smucker, orginally from Goshen, Indiana, graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English Writing and French. Prior to her move to Pittsburgh, Julia was living in France working as a high school teaching assistant. Julia’s PULSE placement is with Amizade Global Service-Learning, a fair trade learning organization. She is serving as Project Assistant, focusing on the CEOLI Card Project, a program that supports disabled Bolivian youth through vocational training, and the Youth Ambassadors Program, a leadership exchange program for high school students. She is also on the social media team for Amizade and helps coordinate blog stories. When Julia isn’t at her placement, you may find her playing strategy games with her friends, exploring the Strip District, finding a free yoga class, biking around the city, or meeting up with friends at a happy hour, always with her camera in hand to document the fun.
What do you love about Pittsburgh?
I love that it’s a hidden treasure and takes a bit to figure out–from sneaky turn lanes and Pittsburgh lefts to all of the different neighborhoods that each have their own distinct character. Once I got my bearings here, I was hooked. To use John Green’s words, “I fell in love [with Pittsburgh] the way you fall asleep; slowly, and then all at once.”
What is the best part of the PULSE experience?
The amazing support network! There are 15 built in friends who have your back, a wonderful staff work to enhance your service experience, caring colleagues, and a slew of active alumni who have stayed on in the area.
What is something about Pittsburgh that has surprised you?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Pittsburgh’s connection to my hometown, Goshen, IN. It seems like a lot of people, particularly young adults, from Goshen (or who attended Goshen College) have lived in or moved to Pittsburgh (often for the PULSE Program). It’s surprisingly easy to find a ride home–and beyond that, it’s comforting to maintain that connection to home in a new, much larger city.
What have you learned about yourself in PULSE so far?
I have learned that I thrive on human connection and love supporting others, whether it be by eagerly eating second helpings of my roommates’ cooking or attending events that other PULSErs have coordinated. Being surrounded by good people who are passionate and incredibly talented is inspiring and truly life-giving.
How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?
My year in PULSE has made me more people-focused. I often come home after work, drop everything by the stairs, and don’t get the chance to take my stuff to my room until hours later when I head to bed, exhausted yet happy and fulfilled. I love the constant opportunity to devote time to relationships, share food and laughs with my housemates over dinner or potlucks, and attend events in the city with friends.
Story by Anna Wildermuth, PULSE Alumna ’10-’11, ’11-’12.