Major: Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS)
Specialization: International Development
Graduation: December 2015
SENR gave me a tremendous opportunity to study abroad! I became an EEDS major specializing in international development with the sole purpose of joining the Peace Corps when I graduate. The opportunity to participate in an international environmental education experience with International Field Studies Inc. gave me the hands on experience working with the environment and local communities that I will need in the Peace Corps.
The EEDS major program was lucky to obtain a generous study abroad scholarship to the Bahamas. I was one of the two students chosen to go on this amazing trip. I was so excited when I got the email from Dr. Drobny saying congratulations, that I ran out of my office in Thompson Library where I work and I called my parents jumping up and down racing all over the Oval because I could not at all contain my excitement. Everything for this trip was paid for except my passport, which is a great investment anyway. No one in my family had owned a passport let alone leave the country; I was the first! Receiving this scholarship was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because I could never afford to go on a study abroad trip and there are a lot of students that cannot as well.
My mom came all the way to Columbus from Cincinnati to take me to the airport even as I insisted I would just take COTA (local public transportation), but it was my very first time on a plane and she was determined to see me off. My plane left at 7am and after a few layovers I finally landed in Ft. Lauderdale and from there I met up with the other student going on the trip and we took a small plane to Andros Island. This place was amazing! It was sweltering hot! I sweat the entire time I stayed there but I loved every single second of it. Andros Island is as the locals call it “the most undeveloped island of the Bahamas”. A lot of people have limited access to electricity and running water. There is freshwater available on the island in the form of blue holes. Trash is a huge environmental issue for the residents of Andros for when you’re on an island, you tend to run of places for landfill. The people who lived here were welcoming, funny, and interesting to talk to. One person who still, a year later, sticks in my mind is the lady who owns the “Love at First Sight” hotel and bar. She left Andros in search of more work in Nassau, the tourist area of the Bahamas but 14 years later she returned to Andros and opened up her hotel. The other student and I visited her one day and she so graciously gave us sugar bananas from her yard.
I did so many activities on Andros which gave me life experiences and taught me more about our global environment. I snorkeled in coral reefs for five of the eight days with sharks, barracudas, sea turtles, and an octopus. I learned so much about tropical ecosystems which was refreshing since here in Ohio we typically learn about freshwater. One time our boat got caught in a tropical storm and we had to find refuge on a tiny key in the middle of the sea. That was a spectacular view! I met with The Bahamas equivalent of Environmental Protection Agency. They informed me of their plans for reducing ocean trash and conserving shark species. I jumped 20 feet off a bridge into a river that ran to the ocean and I snorkeled blue holes and the Tongue of the Ocean. I was sad to leave the island but I know I will travel abroad again someday. I had an incredible time on Andros Island and I would not have been so lucky if I were not a student in Ohio State’s SENR.