Posted: November 7, 2017
In the news, we are constantly seeing coverage on the ‘climate change debate’, whether it is a legitimate debate or not. However, the news seldom portrays what environmentalists are currently doing in solving environmental issues. As repeated through history, people have ignored the issues in the world because we are often blinded by our first-world issues and lives. We may participate in environmentalism through local rallying or organizations, but it has little impact on communities that deal with the effects of climate change daily and often have little voice in decision-making. In a way, environmentalism is a privilege. The poorest people or those with limited resources cannot treat their environment sustainably if external pressures prevent them from doing so. In seeking to solve these problems, sometimes you need to take a step back to see the broader picture. My professor once said that doing less and staying in the game for longer is better than going hard and losing strength in environmentalism. We will have to depend on our generation to make the changes. People say that our generation is different because we are the ‘doers’. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for something worse to happen. So, then…why study abroad with SFS?
SFS is a great program for young environmentalists who need to find their spark or rekindle their old spark for environmentalism. Before I came, I had such a vague understanding of environmental issues. Being in Cambodia, it has been an eye-opening and exposing experience. The professors teach relevant topics that are applied on field trips into the communities you learn about. You get to see the changes of the climate and the people who deal with its impacts every day. It is absolutely an amazing thing. You learn so much when you let yourself live in the moment. I will miss having lectures that link directly to seeing and applying what we learn. Being abroad has strengthened my desire to fight for the environment and exposed me to so many new issues. It has also greatly empowered my peers and their passions in protecting the environment. I can’t wait to see what will be in our futures in environmentalism. I think we are ready for the fight.
Here are some photos of our current student group and our journeys, for added motivation and a sneak peak to your Cambodia adventure!
Discovering the excitement and importance of planting mangroves. Photo courtesy of Anna Chahuneau
Learning methods to study Asian elephants. Photo courtesy of Peter Wedell
Exploring the ethical issues related to canal communities threatened by rising water levels. Photo courtesy of Angela Hessenius
In the forest of Phnom Kulen, studying traditional medicinal plants used by locals. Photo courtesy of Anna Chahuneau