Traveling, volunteering changes student outlook | The Triangle

Traveling, volunteering changes student outlook

Traveling has always been a hobby of mine. Each time I travel, new ideas come to me and I am able to learn so much about some place new, but I also learn something new about myself.

Early into the fall quarter of last year I received an email about The Global Renewable Energy Education Network Program. It was one of those normal mass emails that a bunch of students get, but for some reason the subject line, “The GREEN Program,” really caught my attention. For once, I opened the email and decided to read what it was all about.

However, all I remember reading was something along the lines of studying renewable energy in one of the greenest countries, Iceland, for 10 days during the summer. Immediately I told my parents about this amazing opportunity, and gathered information to apply.

Photo Courtesy Meredith Raphelson
Photo Courtesy Meredith Raphelson

Within about a week or so I was accepted in the program to travel to Iceland in August for 10 days. That is when it hit me: I needed to go on this trip. I didn’t know much about it besides that I would be studying and having an adventure in Iceland, but that is all I really needed to know.

Deciding that I was going on this trip 8 months in advance was both a good and bad idea. Throughout the rest of my freshman year, I would constantly think about being in Iceland and studying renewable energy. It forced me to focus on my schoolwork, since I knew that the only way I would be in Iceland was if I finished school first.

I cannot imagine my life without attending The GREEN Program. I learned to experience each day to its fullest. I learned not to worry about what was going to happen tomorrow because if you don’t live today then tomorrow may never come.

GREEN was a study abroad experience that I do not think I could have had anywhere else. What I learned on the program and what I learned about myself will forever be with me as I continue on into the future.

The goal of The GREEN Program is to bring students from a bunch of different universities in the United States and around the world to study sustainable and renewable energy practices in “green” places; specifically GREEN brings students to
Iceland, Peru and Philadelphia.

These places provide students with first-hand experience that make learning renewable energy a lot easier to grasp. Students are not just traveling to these countries to sit in a classroom and listen to a professor lecture on what their country does to become so
environmentally conscious.

During my GREEN program in Iceland, I had the opportunity to sit in a classroom at Reykjavik University and learn from a professor about geothermal energy, hydropower and even biofuel. After learning in the classroom, my education was taken a step farther because I was granted access to geothermal, hydropower and biofuel facilities to see first hand how they operate.

Learning about a topic and seeing it first hand are two different things. I was able to fully understand geothermal energy after walking through and having an operator explain the processes again. Everything came together after learning and seeing it all play out. All the educational information I was able to take away from GREEN was amazing. It sparked new ideas in my head about sustainable practices and how the U.S. could implement them. Even after learning so much, GREEN gave me adventures of a lifetime as well.

Some of these adventures included: snorkeling between tectonic plates, hiking on a glacier and experiencing the Northern Lights. These were some of my favorite activities during the trip. There was so much I was able to take away from this trip and still two months later am trying to digest everything that happened.

When I came back from GREEN, I had made 41 new friends; 41 other people that had a similar mindset as myself in regards to a sustainable future. The trip really allowed me to grow and step out of my shell. New ideas sparked in my head and I came back a stronger, more motivated individual.

If you are passionate about renewable energy, want to make an impact on the future, and have fun doing it, then I highly suggest looking into attending a trip with The GREEN Program. Only on the GREEN program can you be impacted in such a life changing way.

Meredith Raphelson is a sophomore geoscience major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected].