Boston University Student Gains a Unique Perspective for Renewable Energy & Sustainability by Studying Abroad in Iceland


Apr 13, 2022

imagejpeg 0 Kayam Karnawat

Meet Kayam Karnawat

Iceland 2022

TGP Scholarship Recipient

Boston University
Major: Energy and Environment
Graduation Year: 2022

“My TGP Iceland program was such a transformative learning experience.”

I am a graduate student studying Energy and Environment at Boston University. A professor had introduced me to one of his previous students who was an alumnus of the TGP Iceland program, after I displayed interest in the remarkable progress Iceland has displayed in renewable energy development. After connecting with TGP alumnus Aidan over the phone and asking away all my questions about the program, I knew it was something I wanted to take part in during my academic career. Following my conversation with Aidan, I looked into program dates that would coincide with my spring break dates in college. Over the summer, I was volunteering for Glacier Peak Institute,  a small non-profit tucked away in the rural community of Darrington, Washington, alongside the Northern Cascades. Being a small non-profit with tight funding and a volunteer, I received a small stipend to cover my basic necessities, but nothing was really going into my savings. Just as I was working out ways I would be able to afford my visit to Iceland, I received an email from TGP in August about a scholarship opportunity. I decided to give it a shot and apply, and to my amazement, I was selected! It definitely helped ease a lot of the worrying and made planning for the trip that much easier. Plus, The enrollment process was extremely streamlined and the program coordinators ensured that all my documents and questions were squared away well in advance prior to my trip. Initially, I wasn’t sure how COVID was going to impact our trip, but the team did an excellent job in keeping us up to date on the ever-changing rules and regulations in Iceland.

DSC 0284 1 Kayam Karnawat

Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. Getting to really know a great group of diverse individuals from all over the world has not only shaped my perspective on current world issues, but has also allowed me to take a glance at certain topics from another angle and point of view.

“Not knowing what was in store for us each day really allowed me to immerse myself in the moment and not worry about what the next excursion or lecture was going to be.”

I really wasn’t sure what to expect before coming on the program. The vast majority of the trip was a surprise to me, and to tell the truth, I enjoyed it that way very much. Not knowing what was in store for us each day, really allowed me to immerse myself in the moment and not worry about what the next excursion or lecture was going to be. I don’t think I will ever forget when all of us were sitting at Joe & the Juice at the airport on the first day asking one another what this week had in store for us and truly not knowing. It was such a transformative learning experience, having the chance to take courses at Reykjavik University and learn from distinguished faculty in the field. Although I learned a ton in the classroom, having the opportunity to be able to hike in and out of glaciers with my friends and see firsthand the impacts global warming is having on our ecosystem made a profound impact on me.

My biggest takeaway from Iceland is that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait 5 minutes. On a serious note, this program opened my eyes up to the many possibilities and resources available to the world as we continue to push for the further deployment of cleaner forms of energy. We are the leaders that we have been waiting for, and as such, it is critical we learn from the societies that are on the frontier of domestically produced renewable energy. After this program, I feel confident in our ability and shared responsibility to create a more sustainable and humane economy. One that shifts the needle across the spectrum toward creating long-term socio-economic and environmental value within an ecologically driven system.

“Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity.”

During my time traveling across Iceland, my team and I designed and presented a Capstone Project incorporating the many lessons we had learned during our time on the program. Our project consisted of the methods and potential initiatives we could put into place to solarize Moloka’i, a native community in Hawaii, in order to make them energy independent, boost other sectors of their economy, and drive down the costs of households. Each and every day on the program is so packed and filled with things to do that finding the time in between lectures and excursions to work on the capstone proved to be very difficult, however, we were still able to come up with a really good business proposal allowing for mutual benefits between the residents of Moloka’i and micro-finance investors. 

Kayam’s advice for new GREENies:

The fact of the matter is that if you are considering studying abroad and are facing multiple barriers to entry, you should do your research and reach out directly to the program managers about any funding opportunities that may be available. It never hurts to ask! Everyone’s situation is unique and you shouldn’t feel like yours is any less important. Elaborating on your story when asking around for advice and further resources to assist you in your study abroad plans makes it easier for others to better assist you. TGP made me feel super comfortable telling them about my current financial situation and I couldn’t be more grateful to receive this scholarship and have the opportunity to pursue studying abroad in Iceland.

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