GREEN programs provide priceless opportunities
I let the moment sink in. The cool, salty water lapped with a natural rhythm against the surfboard. I sat there, in disbelief. I thought scenes like this were built for the movies, a fiction unattainable in real life. The fire in the sky — made of the bright yellows and warm oranges of the sunset — burned against the deep cool blue of the sea’s passing waves. This moment was the epitome of everything that I had experienced in Costa Rica, the moment where everything came together. I had learned so much about different cultures, the environment, balance in life, and myself.
This summer, several Rutgers students and I joined The Global Renewable Energy Education Network Program to Costa Rica on a study abroad opportunity to learn about renewable energy over 12 days. The group, started by former Rutgers students and awarded as one of the Top 50 Social Impact Ventures in the World at the New York Stock Exchange in February 2013, promised a study abroad experience intensive enough to for university credits but short enough to not interfere with busy schedules. What we walked away with was far more valuable.
As many people are aware, the world is facing a major energy crisis. We are at a crossroads where we must choose new energy sources and implement them before our destructive habits, built by poor policies and big money, take us down a path leading to an environmental collapse unsafe for any species.
While current policy makers, CEOs and world leaders are going to lay some of the groundwork for change, our generation will be the one tasked with making the important choices that will determine our world’s future. The GREEN Program recognizes this and focuses on giving future leaders the tools, experiences and knowledge that cannot be taught in a traditional classroom.
The program goes beyond textbook information. Hands-on experiences at functioning renewable energy facilities allow concepts and technologies to jump off the page. Cultural experiences, including service-learning projects, immerse students in an enlightening setting that allows them to gain a global perspective. Additionally, through adventure excursions, students can bring themselves closer to nature. The trip ends with capstone project presentations allowing students to take all of their new knowledge and experiences and apply them to a real-world, original idea that is often further pursued after the program concludes.
Above all things, GREEN allows you to escape the fast paced life in the U.S. where people are always planning for the future, especially college students. Few get the opportunity to stop planning and enjoy and respect what is around them now.
GREEN allowed Olivia, one of the Rutgers students on my trip, to do this. “After the program, I feel like I have much more of a go with the flow attitude and take life one day at a time. I appreciate what I have right in front of me while still being excited to plan my future and make moves to develop a career that is focused on the environment” she said.
Walking towards the airport terminal to leave Costa Rica was one of the toughest things I ever had to do. It wasn’t hard because of the Capstone project I completed, the facts I learned about GREEN energy or the unique animals that I saw. It was hard because of the journey that I took to get to that point. It was hard, because the strangers I had met two weeks before were now my family. It was hard because the people who showed me new cultures were being left behind. It was hard because there is no other place where the people are so connected with the environment. It was hard because I was more of myself there than I ever had been. I lived in the present more in those two weeks than I did in the past two years.
Olivia put it best when she said, “The GREEN experience is truly priceless.”
Lucas Corcodilos is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in physics.
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