Connecting the dots with The GREEN Program


Apr 18, 2018

This past March, Ramon Crespo, an Electrical Engineering student at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), joined us in Fukushima, Japan for our 2018 spring break adventure. Amongst some of our newest GREEN students, Ramon dove into all things Disaster Mitigation & Nuclear to Renewable Transitions as seen through the past, present, and future practices of the historical events of 2011 in Fukushima.

Inspired by Ramon’s thirst for adventure, curiosity surrounding renewable energy systems, and motivation to learn about new cultures, we could not be more excited to welcome him into our GREEN community with the help of our partner, The Happold FoundationRead on to learn more about Ramon’s travels with us this past spring break!

Meet Ramon

Japan: Disaster Mitigation & Nuclear to Renewable Transitions
March 2018

University: California Polytechnic State University 
Major: Electrical Engineering
Age: 23

cjg45lt55000fhei5njdxqklb 00100dportrait 00100 burst20180311151912632 cover

Tell us more about you! What is a day in the life of Ramon like?

My days consist of figuring out my next steps as I begin to get ready to graduate. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I enjoy studying Electrical Engineering, it is highly time consuming and requires me to be on-campus. With graduation around the corner, I’m trying to change that. I’m trying to get off campus more and enjoy what’s going on around my university’s town, too. For instance, I do my school work from my favorite coffee shop, I go out for hikes, and I’ve always been passionate for cooking, so I cook delicious dinners for myself and my roommates (if they’re lucky). [Laughs] 

What inspired you to submit your application for The GREEN Program, and what was your immediate reaction when you received your acceptance?

My professor for power systems sent me an email about The GREEN Program! He went on the Iceland program and had only good things to say. I was already planning on backpacking through Japan on my spring break, so when I read about the Japan program and how directly linked it was to my studies, I knew I had to go.

My immediate reaction was, “Wow… they responded quick!” Waiting for a response after applying to a program – like an internship or a full-time job – are some of the most stressful times I’ve experienced! I let out a big sigh of relief, and of course, told my professor about it.

When preparing for your TGP adventure, what were you most looking forward to and what were you seeking to get out of your time abroad with us? 

cjg5i4f4m01vtl4i5l72yzeqa screen shot 2018 04 18 at 3 39 32 pm

I was looking forward to the talks about renewable energy technology in Fukushima and Japan as a whole. As someone who has a taken a photovoltaic technology course and installed solar panels on a rooftop, I can say that I’m an advocate for cleaner energy production, and consumption. The opportunity to meet some of the best at what they do in Japan was very exciting to me.

“I was seeking a meaningful experience that I’ll never forget from TGP, and that’s what I got.”

When you think back to Japan, what are some of the most memorable portions of your trip with us? Why do you think that these memories stick out? 

I will never forger snowshoeing through Mt. Bandai with everyone. As someone who was born and raised in a tropical country, snow in its non-slushy state has always been a source of wonder for me – seeing the snow piled up eight feet high in a red pine tree forest surrounded by lakes of green hue, plus having the summit of Mt. Bandai in the background. I was completely in awe, and then, it started snowing.

cjg5j60qn004jdvi5j7l497jw img 20180315 160740 1

I thought to myself, “Wow, You’re telling me I’m surrounded by this beautiful winter wonderland of scenery and then I experience the second snowfall of my life?! Get out of here!” Taking all that in and sharing a moment of silence for the people affected by the earthquake and Tsunami seven years before felt very peaceful and surreal. I felt in tune with nature, I will never forget it.

#onlyontheGREENprogram means having an adventure of a lifetime that uses meaningful interaction with the environment, the culture, the people, the experts, and fellow adventurers to make you want to save the world.

What does only #onlyontheGREENprogram mean to you?

Many of our students have an “Aha!” moment during their TGP program. Did you have a pivotal moment or an experience during your time in Japan that has altered or shifted the way you view the world around you? 

cjg6tzixm007mq2i5ldehuwo4 20507770 10155726238139575 7984633223220540112 o 1

Dr. Onishi’s lecture. I was amazed by his incredible background and work ethic; He is my real-life superhero. He is someone I aspire to be like when it comes to thinking more sustainably. Everything connected. I finally understood that the beautiful scenery I observed at Mt. Bandai is in jeopardy if humanity continues to expand in a non-sustainable way. Dr. Onishi told us about his daughters’ aspirations to save the world, and I too, felt inspired to the do the same. I now have renewed confidence that I can help save the world too, even if I’m just one person.

Fast forward to graduation (coming up in just a few weeks): you’re looking toward launching your career. What is your dream career, and has TGP had an impact on shaping this professional path?

My dream career is anything that enables to be myself in a dynamic environment with professionals from diverse educational and life backgrounds while working on current technology. TGP has inspired me to work sustainable thinking into every decision I’ll make in my career. TGP has reminded me that every decision you make can have an environmental impact, so it’s important to start thinking with this in mind holistically – personally, professionally, educationally.

“I now have renewed confidence that I can help save the world too, even if I’m just one person.”

cjg5i0rb1018qqoi5t220dp48 img 20180317 224652

Why do you believe that other like-minded students like yourself, and others around the world, should have opportunities like The GREEN Program? 

I think that being exposed to different cultures, sights, people, and ideas makes you grow and become more understanding, humble, and kind. Student leaders like myself benefit from TGP because it not only encourages us to start thinking more consciously, but also helps us grow new experiences and understanding, as well as connecting us with like-minded with professionals and peers.

I’m excited for where I see myself going because of The GREEN Program. I hope I can continue to join more programs like this in the future. I have already told my friends and peers about the amazing time I had, and how much I have learned.

As an alumnus of The GREEN Program and a member of TGP community, what are you most excited by?

What does it mean to you to be funded by The Happold Foundation, and why is this collective initiative important for young leaders?

cjg5itjc8002kdvi5zaa41swa 29103520 10156402783094575 5331781297116013648 n
Text and images by: 
Ramon Crespo & The GREEN Program

Being funded by The Happold Foundation is a huge honor. For me. it means that I now have the skills and tools to align more of my life goals closer to those of Happold’s mission: to shape a community that wants to improve the built environment. I plan to use the skills I have attained throughout my career to bring something unique to the communities I live in, as well as to shape a better future for everyone, together. This collective initiative is important because I could not have experienced TGP without them, and I say with all honesty that I would have lost out on an amazing opportunity for personal growth if I didn’t go on this trip. 

Happold Foundation, together with TGP, has helped me become a better person, a more forward-thinking person, and I will carry that torch forward. Thanks to Happold, I am a more sustainability-conscious leader. I hope this initiative will continue creating better leaders for the future, as we certainly need new young leaders at the forefront for change around the world. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Read Another Article

Honoring Kate Slattery & Highlighting the Shine On Scholarship for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, The GREEN Program is happy to highlight Kate Slattery – a mechanical engineer and photovoltaic designer for SolarCity who challenged herself and others to work toward a global mission of renewable energy and sustainability. We are honored to work with Kate’s family and GivePower to share Kate’s story and provide the Shine On Scholarship to TGP students in memory of Kate. 

read more

How an Online Sustainability Program Helped Jaedyn Medrano Become an Intersectional Sustainability Advocate

This blog features the virtual Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development Alum, Jaedyn Medrano who says, “this program taught me how to think about a project holistically, and it has guided me along the path to being a better cultured and inclusive young professional.” She is set to graduate with a double major in Renewable Natural Resources & Ecological Restorations in December of 2022.

read more

Defending Reproductive Rights in the Battle for Climate Justice

Reproductive Justice is Climate Justice. The GREEN Program stands to defend the reproductive rights of all women and people who give birth to access safe reproductive health care. We must do more to educate others and understand the interconnection between Reproductive Justice and the Climate Crisis. It’s important to draw the connections between climate change, pollution, and reproductive rights.

read more

An International Graduate Student Embraces Nepali Culture by Studying Abroad through Shine On Scholarship

On one hand, I believe that every student should be given a chance to study abroad at least once in their life, because it teaches us things that textbooks cannot: adaptability, resilience, curiosity, empathy, just to name a few. Whether good or bad, bursting our bubble and learning about our world will inspire us and open our minds. On the other hand, the people we interact with benefit from the diversity, because all of us bring unique perspectives to the table. Perhaps we share an idea that no one has thought of but could be key to solving a problem; we fuel the aspirations of someone who is facing similar difficulties; or help take down stereotypes.  

read more

Remembering Juneteenth and the Fight for Environmental Justice

n June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity. 

read more

LGBTQ+ Leaders and Organizations in Sustainability to Know About this Pride Month

The GREEN Program loves to celebrate love, and there is no better way to do that this month than by recognizing a few LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations that are making a difference not just in their own communities but for our planet altogether. Read below to learn more about some people and spaces that are working together to promote a better world that focuses on inclusion and equality.

read more

Meet 8 AAPI Leaders in Sustainability: Across the Globe and At Home

The month of May is known to many as the end of classes and the start of Summer, but May is also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our team at TGP wanted to take a moment to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI Americans throughout history, culture, and achievements both on a global scale, and from those who are a bit close to home. We also encourage you to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and get involved through additional resources.

read more

From a Start Up to a Sustainability Study Abroad Program: How Patrick Applied his Passion for Renewable Energy in Iceland

When Fall 2021 rolled around and I saw the TGP scholarship opportunity, I thought I’d apply not expecting much. When I found out that I actually got it, I was like “I guess I’m actually doing this!”. I was a little nervous and anxious but also so excited for the opportunity! I was also grateful that the enrollment process was very smooth for me with no significant challenges along the way.

read more

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

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.

read more

A Construction Science Major Turns Lessons into Opportunity after a Sustainability Study Abroad Program 

AJ Ewing spent his past Winter Break a little bit differently than most students, by studying abroad on our GREEN Nepal program. As a Construction Science major, AJ notes that he was nervous coming into the study abroad program having no prior experience in sustainability or electrical/solar grids, but he was excited and eager to learn. As soon as he arrived, all his nerves were gone as he was welcomed by our team and ready to dive in. Now, he can honestly say that when he thinks of The GREEN Program, he thinks of “family away from home.”

read more

How a Geologist Made His Sustainability Dream in Iceland a Reality through a Study Abroad Scholarship

As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels. My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education too. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true.

read more

Get to Know GREENie: Maryam Aida Tidjani

Maryam Aida Tidjani got to experience a brand new kind of GREEN Program during the hard times the world was facing, a 100% Virtual and Online experience. Initially planning on traveling to Peru in 2021, the global pandemic continued to shift things around and we had to pivot all travel programs to Online experiences.

read more

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Skip to content