Cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Although it’s only about the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica accounts for around six percent of the entire world’s biodiversity. At the same time, the country’s economy thrives off of tourism and agricultural exports like bananas, pineapples, coffee, and sugarcane, which means that the rainforests here are frequently being converted into upscale resorts or mass-production farms. With environmental issues ranging from land conversion to studying the impacts of tourism to conserving biodiversity, everything is connected. I think that participating in an SFS program at this time is so important because we are at such a critical juncture when it comes to handling environmental concerns on a global scale.
A sustainable coffee farm where agroforestry is practiced
SFS is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to environmental education and sustainability—both from the classes we take, and from interactions with fellow students. I love the way in which these classes challenge me to see environmental issues not only through a global lens, but also a lens which encompasses sustainability and its relationships with tropical ecology, the management of natural resources, and environmental ethics all at once. I think that it is crucial for students to gain this eye-opening perspective in a foreign country because there are so many environmental issues which we are oblivious to in our lives in the United States due to the fact that we live in a more developed nation.
It is difficult to be a strong advocate for environmental rights without physically seeing how other countries other than my own are dealing with environmental issues. There is so much that I am learning about and appreciating through this program with SFS, and I could not be more grateful to be here right now.
Hiking the Costa Rican Continental Divide