UNCW Student Chooses GREEN Study Abroad Opportunity


Oct 13, 2013

“So much of school today is about fitting into a system and learning a certain way.  GREEN isn’t like that though.  It’s more about doing what you love to do and getting hands-on experience in the mean time,” said UNC Wilmington student Richard Smith about his recent study abroad experience. 

A GREEN experience:

This summer, Smith spent ten days studying and configuring renewable energy resources in Iceland with a student-founded organization called GREEN (Global Renewable Energy Education Network). During the program, students separated into small teams to collaborate on capstone projects.  These projects took students from different fields and put them together to come up with an idea related to developing renewable energy. 

“With GREEN, the focus is different [than traditional study abroad programs],” Smith said. “They don’t just dump you into a classroom and expect you to learn the way you would at school.  You’re getting real life experience in your field while also being immersed in a great culture.” 

While abroad, Smith and his team investigated new ways to make residential geothermal heating systems economical and practical in New York.  

“The capstone project isn’t just an idea,” Smith said.  “At the end of the program, a lot of students have received government funding to carry out projects.” 

One team of students who studied with GREEN created a world energy project which now provides solar panels for schools in Africa. 

It wasn’t all work and no play though, Smith said. During the trip, the students climbed glaciers, camped in a national park, snorkeled between continents, went “super jeeping” and visited hot springs in the mountains. 

“One of my favorite things about the program is that you get a real feel for the culture,” said Smith. “When you study abroad in an American program, you’re with Americans the whole time. With GREEN, we stayed with Icelandic people, had native tour guides, had authentic Icelandic food in front of us and listened to Icelandic conversations.”

While in Iceland, students stayed in “eco villages” where the locals practice sustainable living by growing their own food and using renewable energy sources. 

“When you’re a tourist, you do excursions, but you don’t really get into the culture,” Smith said.

How it started:

GREEN was founded by two college students who were looking to re-shape ideas about international study.  The founders have been successful in effecting positive change in the world and individual students. They have created a program where, according to their website, “The words of a traditional textbook knowledge jump off the page and into the minds and hearts of [their] students through hands-on education at functioning renewable energy facilities.”

“I’ve never seen something where people our age have created something so efficient and successful. Normally, you don’t think that people our age can do that sort of thing but GREEN is proof that we can,” Smith said. 

Where it’s going:

Currently, GREEN is an unapproved study abroad program at UNCW. Since his return from Iceland, Smith has been working on spreading awareness about the program and trying to get GREEN programs approved by UNCW Study Abroad.  A meeting is scheduled at the October to get GREEN approved, Smith said.  

To find out more about the GREEN Program and the work that they do in Iceland and Costa Rica, visit their website or check out their Facebook page

More about Smith:

Smith is a senior at UNCW, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Geosciences. He interns with the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, is a UNCW Study Abroad Ambassador, International Student Mentor, and a member of the International Programs Speaker Bureau.  

Since his return from Iceland, Smith has been working as an intern for GREEN.  He applied to graduate school at the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavik University, a recent GREEN partner. And after graduate school, Smith hopes to work in international renewable energy. 

See the original article here: 

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