I used my STEP funds to travel abroad with an animal science class, ANIMSCI 3797.03, to New Zealand. There we compared the human and animal interactions of New Zealand and that of the United States and thought about which one seems better and how we can improve our interactions.
I feel that my understanding of the world and what we can do together changed drastically. I feel like I learned how a different culture interacts with one another and what it means to live like they do. I learned that change can happen when environmentalists, farmers, the government and the public all agree on a problem and come together to fix it. I also realized that change in the United States will be much harder to accomplish but it is up to us to make it possible. It is up to us to do the research, find the problem and inform the public.
One key aspect of the trip was the tour of a beef farm. While in New Zealand I noticed that the farmers especially the Beef Farm were very conscience about the environment and their impact on it. Part of the reason may be because the island is so small that there is not a lot of places for the waste to go and they can see the effects of waste much quicker than us in the United States can, also they are able to pass legislation faster because they are a smaller country and their population is not as diverse as the United States. Places like the Beef farm have systems in place to stop Nitrogen from leeching into the ground and run down into the lake, thus their beef costs a little bit more. There is a niche market for this beef and not everyone buys it. It seemed to me that in New Zealand the farmers, environmentalists, public and the government have seemed found and discussed what the problem was and came up with ways to solve said problem.
Another key aspect of the trip was the Maori village. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand but when the Europeans came the population started to decrease. Over the past few decades the population of Maori people had started to increase and the village we went to was a great example of the Maori people staying close to their roots. I loved interacting with a culture that feels one with the land and feels so ancient. I found it interesting how the culture of the Maori and the new culture of New Zealand interact; how they have an understanding of one another, how they intertwined. It really showed me that cultures that seem so different can exist together though means of understanding.
The last key aspect of the trip was the group I went with. There was about 28 of us that went on this trip and most of us where Animal Science majors. We all had different backgrounds, life experiences, stories and future goals and this is what made the group so interesting. I never had so much fun and learned so much from a peer group, they made the trip so much more memorable. I learned that going on a study abroad is much more meaningful with new people so you can all learn together, adventure together and hopefully at the end of the trip come out with a new group of friends. I know I did.
This personal development matters to my professional and future goals because of the differences between human and animal interactions that we studied. I found this class and trip very insightful because I learned that the culture between the US and New Zealand are similar in a lot of ways but can also have some differences. The biggest thing I learned was that each place is different so they call for different methods of having positive human and animal interactions but that does not mean that they cannot learn from each other. With all the similarity it could be that these countries have shared their own methods with each other in order to benefit the whole. This idea is what I can take away and use in every aspect of my life. We do not all have to think the same but that does not mean there is nothing to learn from one another.