This past spring, Tymber Felts, an International Studies student (with a concentration in Global Sustainability and Development) at North Carolina State University is amongst our newest cohort of GREEN students in Iceland for our 2018 Spring Break program. Focusing on Renewable Energy & Sustainability, Tymber learned all about the ins and outs of renewable energy practices in what is known as one of the greenest countries on the planet!
We are so inspired by Tymber’s passion for sustainable development and motivation to leave a positive impact on her community and around the world. With the help of our partner, The Happold Foundation, a charity dedicated to using engineering skills and experience to make a positive impact on people’s lives, we were able to make this opportunity possible for Tymber. We could not be more thrilled to welcome her into the GREEN Community!
We look forward to continuing to provide these educational experiences to deserving student leaders & young professionals around the world. Read on to learn more about Tymber & her experience in Iceland with us.
Iceland: Renewable Energy & Sustainability
University: North Carolina State University
Major: International Studies, Global Sustainability and Development
“TGP feels like something that was made specifically for me and other students like me that are working hard to protect the world around them, while at the same time, are looking for a little bit of adventure in their lives.”
Tell us more about you! What’s a day in the life of Tymber like?
A day in the life of Tymber involves getting up pretty early every morning. I use this time in the mornings to get some classwork done, I must admit, some of this work is definitely last minute. However, I feel most productive in the mornings, so this is helpful to me. After this, I either head to class or to work. Class time and work time take up most of my day, but my time after that involves one of three things: some form of volunteering, doing classwork, or something fun (finally)! When I think of fun, I usually think of Panera Bread and the Earthbound store at the mall, or maybe getting some ice cream with friends. I also really enjoy the restaurant scene in my city and the abnormal amount of museums as well, I particularly enjoy the museum of natural sciences in downtown Raleigh.
What inspired you to submit your application for The GREEN Program, and what was your immediate reaction when you received your acceptance?
One of my friends had attended the same GREEN Program in Iceland and he raved about it — and that really caught my attention. I also realized that I needed some hands-on experience involving sustainability to really push my major a little further. I would say that I definitely can be an adventurous person, but college and work have kind of created a cycle of redundancy for me; so, I decided to do something that I have never done before: travel abroad. Not only would I be traveling abroad, but I would be learning about something that I am truly passionate about in an incredibly beautiful and innovative country.
When I received my acceptance, I immediately told my sister, and I remember telling her in all caps “I ACTUALLY GOT IN, WHAT THE HECK!!” Before I applied to the program, I was reading information on alumni and realized that all of them were from incredible schools, some even from Ivy Leagues, and I was very intimidated. I wasn’t sure if The GREEN Program would see me as a great fit for the program, let alone for a scholarship! I told all of my friends and I was definitely that annoying person that wouldn’t stop talking about how I was going to Iceland for spring break – I don’t regret a second of it though.
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?
I looked forward to experiencing a place outside of the US. I am surrounded by different ideals and cultures on a daily basis – my major is International Studies after all, but I realized that I would never get the true exposure I needed without actually traveling abroad. I also looked forward to being in a country that was so supportive of green initiatives and making use of its natural resources. This puts in perspective how innovation and appreciation for one’s surroundings can completely change a place, and how this also can be applied to other countries. I also looked forward to being uncomfortable, which sounds odd, but I wanted to experience something new and exciting. I was ready to completely immerse myself in a new place and culture.
How would you compare your expectations pre-program to your experience during the program (and after, as an Alumni)?
Pre-program, I was expecting to embarrass myself. I was scared that I would be the only one that would have a hard time adjusting to the cold climate and admitting to myself that I am undoubtedly out of shape. That first hike in Iceland definitely let me know that [laughs].
Once I realized that other people were in the same boat as me, I was incredibly relieved. This kind of allowed me to open myself up to this experience and to be present in the moment rather than worry about how red my face was getting and how sore my legs were already. This applies to the rest of the program as well: I was afraid that everyone else would be better or smarter than me when it came to sustainability and renewable energy, and this made me very nervous, especially regarding the capstone project. It only took me the first day on the trip to realize that everyone was there because they wanted to learn and experience more about something that they cared about. As an alumnus, it is nice to reflect on how comfortable I came to be around these people I had never met before in a country I had never been in.
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 Iceland that has altered or shifted the way you view the world around you?
I never really had one specific moment when I came to a sudden realization. However, I will say that this experience really opened my eyes to the idea that other countries have no excuses when it comes to using non-renewable energies. 100% renewable energy is not an outlandish idea, and is completely possible in other countries besides Iceland. We have the technology and the resources, so it is time to act now!
Educationally, how would you say that your experience on TGP has benefited you moving forward as you continue working toward completing your degree?
I feel much more educated on renewable energies than I ever thought I would be. I had learned some through my involvement in an environmental organization on campus, but never really understood how exactly it worked or how it could be used on a large-scale, let alone it being able to provide power to an entire country. I am confident that I can sound informed when talking about renewable energy now, as I experienced it first-hand. This is very important to my degree and my career prospects as I am now confident that I know what I’m talking about if I ever want to gain support for sustainability and protecting the environment.
Fast forward to graduation: you’re looking toward launching your career. What is your dream career, and has TGP had an impact on shaping this professional path?
It is my dream to work with a nonprofit organization or humanitarian group that aims to act upon the sustainability goals named by the United Nations, and is especially focused on people’s environmental impact. Sustainability and reducing my impact, and other’s impacts on the environment, are my ultimate goals in a career. I would definitely say that The GREEN Program has given me additional knowledge and experience that will help me in the future and has already began to contribute to my career path at this very point in time!
Why do you believe that other like-minded students like yourself, and others around the world, should have opportunities like TGP?
It isn’t every day that you can find yourself in an incredible country surrounded by people that share the same ultimate goal in protecting our environment, while also enjoying a week-long to ten-day action packed adventure. The GREEN Program provides an opportunity like no other that will carry with you for the rest of your life. It is also important for young people interested in these fields to gain hands-on experience.This creates a memory that will cause a lasting impact on their lives forever. It’s priceless.
As an alumna of The GREEN Program and a member of TGP community, what are you most excited by?
I am excited to be a part of such a large, intelligent network of people. It’s inspiring to see so many others share my love for nature, sustainability, and the environment. TGP also provides countless opportunities and a wealth of knowledge on subjects from solar energy to plastic waste. The diversity and great number of resources of TGP are unsurmountable.
I am also excited to have the option to be a GREEN Ambassador, as I want to share my passion for the environment and for the wonderful opportunities that The GREEN Program presents with other people. I specifically want to focus on making environmental groups on campus aware of the experiences they could have by becoming part of the GREEN community. I want to be a part of this spark of interest in protecting our world and help it grow into a necessity.
What does it mean to you to be funded by The Happold Foundation, and why is this collective initiative important for young leaders?
To me, being funded by The Happold Foundation means that others believe in my ability to help create a more innovative and sustainable world, and this is astounding. I am incredibly honored that the scholarship board believes in my abilities. This initiative is important for young leaders because it helps students like myself, that could otherwise not afford programs like TGP, take advantage of opportunities that are so important to the well-being of the world and to future generations.
– Text and Images by: Tymber Felts & The GREEN Program