Blog

Visual learners wanted: Bring your education to life in Cusco

This past summer, Michigan State University student, Camille, joined us abroad for our Peru program in Cusco focused on Water Resource Management & Sustainable Practices. With the help of The Happold Foundation, Camille was able to travel with us to explore a new culture, expand her networks, and dive into her passions for water resources. Read on to learn more about Camille and her time abroad! 

Meet Camille M.


Peru: Water Resource Management & Sustainable Practices | May 2018 

University: Michigan State University
Major: Environmental Engineering, PhD
Age: 28


“I want to be in a career position where I can (1) promote change, (2) advocate for those whose voices go unheard, and (3) reach out and educate others about the impacts we have on our environment and just how much of an impact it has on us.”

cjnahgjra04gjgki5df25y1em 33034151 10155198131526582 7744167922674696192 n

Tell us more about you! What’s a day in the life of Camille like?

Usually research and being outdoors with my dog, she keeps me active. I enjoy hanging out with friends whenever I get the chance and spending time with my  niece. I love engaging in projects, whether personal or academic, so I’m always busy. I also write screenplays; story telling is one of my passions.

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 was looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing what it’s like to be immersed in the Peruvian culture. I was also looking forward to broadening my knowledge in water resources and stepping out of my comfort zone.

Tell us more about your GREEN experience! When you think back to Peru, what are some of the most memorable portions of your trip with us?


The first thing that comes to mind is walking across a plank bridge to get from one zip line to the next. It felt like it was thousands of feet in in the air! There were gaps between the planks so you really had to reach to get from one to the other. Definitely an adrenaline rush alone! And of course Machu Picchu, was a once in a lifetime experience for me. The views were breathtaking! Oh, and how can I forget the whitewater rafting? Talk about a thrill! There were so many memorable moments, it’s hard to single them out.
 

How would you compare your expectations pre-program to your experience during the program (and after, as an Alumna)?


Everyday was packed with activities and there were so many opportunities to bond with others on the trip. I love the way the academic course was split between the classroom and the field. We actually spent more time in the field getting hands-on, practical experience. Another (pleasant) surprise was having so many new connections leaving the program. It’s amazing to be connected with the other students on social media and get regular updates on exciting events happening for them this summer and beyond. While I was surprised by the smaller size of the program, it was nice because we all got a chance to know each other well. Not to mention our GREEN Guide, Corrie. She was incredible and really helped us to foster these connections and made sure that we were all comfotable during our time in Peru. I feel I have truly walked away with new friends.

cjnah2s5q04lffvi5zwmtr54o img e7077

To me, #onlyontheGREENprogram represents how much you can accomplish in just 10 days.

I learned so much about myself during my TGP trip. I completed several things on my bucket list in just ten days! Not to mention that we completed a capstone project despite having very full days. I’ve walked away from this experience having expanded my network and experienced a new culture while learning about their water and sustainability practices.

I truly do fill more confident in my abilities both academically, physically, and mentally.

To me, only on the GREEN program represents how much you can accomplish in just 10 days. 

Educationally, how would you say that your experience on TGP has benefited you moving forward as you continue working toward completing your degree?


I’ve definitely made some lasting connections and expanded my network. This is always important and invaluable because we can be resources to each other by sharing information and offering advice in our unique areas of study. Also, TGP has shown me how much culture means. Having this type of experience will allow me think more broadly when approaching and formulating my own research questions. 
 

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?


I want to work where I can bridge water-related environmental issues and public health. I want the work that I do to influence change and create a better well-being for people in general. I want to feel like what I’m doing is fulfilling and meaningful to myself and whoever will be affected by my work. That would be my dream career.

After my trip with TGP I started thinking about working with environmental health issues abroad. That’s something that I didn’t consider before.

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

To engage with and understand other cultures means a lot to me and hopefully other like- minded people feel the same way. TGP gave me the opportunity to truly experience a different culture. I like that we were immersed in the culture while in Peru and not limited to solely what some may think of as touristy areas.

I also think the structure of the course was something that a lot of other academic programs should adopt. Being able to learn in the field helped me to piece together the concepts that were taught in the course to the reality of them in the environment and society. This experience is great for any visual learner like myself.

Tell us more about your Capstone Project: What was the inspiration behind it? Do you see yourself moving forward with developing it further?


My group decided to explore the sources and impacts of pollution in the Rio Huatanay River. We also put together a list of short and long-term action plans for tackling the pollution. The idea behind it was to create a framework for a grant proposal for funding. The funding would be used to actually assess the sources of pollution such as the concentration and relative percentage of the different sources at different locations along the river. I was inspired to take on this project after learning about and witnessing the pollution in the river. I wanted to do some research and figure out what has already been done to address the problem of pollution and what are some areas that still need attention.

I was also inspired by my current research, which involves assessing microbial pollution in water and correlating that with public health of surrounding communities. I was interested in seeing what types of diseases were common in the city of Cusco and how some of those can be tied back to the river. I’m hoping to present some of the capstone work at a conference. Maybe from there I will get some ideas of how I can continue to develop the project. I’m eager to bring awareness to this issue of pollution in the Rio Huatanay and promote change simply by proving information.

cjnaifb4504scfvi5pbtk7un9 img 6630

What are some things that you’ve set out to accomplish this past summer, and what would you like to accomplish this school year?

This summer, I spent time analyzing some wastewater samples for my research and I’m in the process of submitting a paper for publication in a scientific journal. I also set a goal to finish the next draft of a screenplay I’m working on.  This school year, I’m hoping to begin the process of writing my next paper. To add to that, I plan to complete my comprehensive exam, the second biggest exam in my PhD career.

What does it mean for you to have been funded by Happold Foundation, and why is this collective initiative important for other young, aspiring leaders?

cjnail2ih04n1gki5ve5bf6b4 img e6783

The Happold Foundation made this trip possible for me. I will forever be grateful and inspired to pay it forward in any way that I can. TGP trips are once in a lifetime experiences

However, can be expensive for students (like myself) to pay out of pocket. I didn’t have financial aid during the time of my trip. Between financial hurdles through my university, and personally, I will never forget the feelng when I was selected to be a scholarship recipient. There are many young leaders out there who are in similar situations to myself; collaborations with organizations like The Happold Foundation are vital to ensure that motivated students can take advantage of these life-changing opportunities.
 

Text & Images by: Camille McCall 

Read Another Article

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

Loading...
Skip to content