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Water You Doing to Better the world: Tackling Water Issues in Peru

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Oct 25, 2016

Our two-time Alumna and GREEN Ambassador from the University of Miami, Paulina, gave us the inside scoop on what went down during our pilot program in Peru last summer. Learn more about Paulina’s Capstone Project and how “Post GREEN Program, [she continues] to be energized, motivated, and full of hope of a better world.”

On August 29, 2014, I didn’t know that I was about to have yet another life-changing experience with The GREEN Program. I was about to participate in GREEN’s Peru program: Water Resource Management & Sustainable Practices. Enrolling in the Peru pilot program was a leap of faith, but I was completely confident that it would be just as powerful if not more so, than the GREEN Costa Rica program I participated on last year. And, effectively, it was.

Rise & Shine!

We would wake up around 7 AM to attend class, which normally lasted about an hour. During our time with GREEN, we took classes with the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL), The GREEN Program’s educational partner. Classes covered a wide range of topics including Peru’s geography, climate and environmental problems, water issues, Incan history, and more. Beyond this, the courses not only examined the effect of these issues in Peru, but on a global scale too.

We experienced what we learned with hands-on activities outside of the classroom.

After class we would experience what we learned with hands-on activities outside of the classroom. Some of these activities included: visiting Incan aqueducts and terraces, water-treatment plants, hydrology projects, contaminated rivers, and hydroelectric power plants. It was so important to visit the actual facilities and projects rather than just learning about them inside the classroom because we got to talk to the individuals in charge of these projects and ask them anything and everything we were curious about. Having these interactions allowed for me to learn so much more than I ever imagined.

One aspect that I liked about these experiences is that we were able to see how Peruvian people interacted with their surrounding community and environment. For example, when visiting one of Peru’s most contaminated rivers, my classmates and I were shocked to see how people passing by simply threw trash into the river without hesitation. I couldn’t help but wonder why they were doing this. What if the “Cuzqueños” (Cuzco locals) don’t understand the consequences behind what happens when they throw trash into the river or onto the streets? Based on what we were taught on the program, we learned that this trash ends up being a health hazard hazard because this polluted water is then used to irrigate crops, feed animals, and even used for human consumption.

This curiosity sparked the motivation for the theme of my Capstone Project: Education

Capstone Projects: trying to solve one environmental issue at a time

Every version of The GREEN Program includes a Capstone Project as one of the main educational components in addition to the classes and on-site visits. The idea is to make a group and work on a business model that tries to solve an environmental issue in the world.

My group decided to act on this issue of education in Cuzco by designing an educational program for kids. Our Capstone kept in mind the target demographic, governmental policies, costs and funding, implementation, and impacts. I think this project is excellent because during our program, not only do we learn about these issues, but we actually act and put our knowledge to work. It is incredible to see how much we can do in just 10 days, and how people with these like-minded passions can come together and accomplish great things.

We got to experience everything! 

In addition to the industry exposure, academic & entrepreneurial elements of the program, we had fun too! Our schedule always managed to have time to hike, walk along rivers and railroads, go whitewater rafting, zip-line, karaoke, dance, shop at the local markets, and eat exquisite Peruvian food. We got to experience everything. 

One of my favorite activities was visiting Machu Picchu, which is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. When I first saw this Inca village (dating back to 1450), I was astonished by it’s magnificence. I could stare at the perfection of this construction in the middle of the mountains forever. I couldn’t stop thinking about the incredible things that humans can do. I learned a lot about the Incas, their intelligence and love for nature, and am now determined to help upkeep this mentality for a more sustainable future. 

Post GREEN Program, I continue to be energized, motivated, and full of hope of a better world Post GREEN Program, I continue to be energized, motivated and full of hope of a better world because I of the support that I found during GREEN. I met friends that want to make big changes, and they have helped me understand that I am not by myself in trying to do the same thing. I think GREEN is so special because of the GREEN Team and their mission. They want to empower college students with creativity, knowledge and international experiences to change the world. Without a dubt, this is reflected each day during the program.

(Text & images by: Paulina A.)

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