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New Zealand and Australia: Sustainable Tourism and the Environment (Summer)
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Stephanie Kinsella

Major: Communication Arts and Sciences; Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management
Hometown: Lehighton, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this abroad program by having a guest speaker come into one of my classes to give a short introduction for it. After that, I attended an information session held outside the classroom.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The first place my class traveled to was the northern island of New Zealand. As soon as we landed, we were off to start our first exploration of the Karangahake gorge. While there, we toured the old mines and railways. A few days later we went to Tauranga and learned about a plant called flax, which helps repopulate rainforests. Next, we went to McLaren Falls Park in Omanawa and tested oxygen levels in the river by collecting the bugs that reside there. One of the last things we did in New Zealand was take second graders to the beach and plant sand dunes with them and teach them about how important sand dunes are in the event of a tsunami or flooding. While in Australia, we started in Hidden Valley where we stayed in cabins in an eco-friendly resort. We went on another rainforest walk that led to the running river gorge where we could swim. This was one of my favorite activities to do. Within the next few days, we had the opportunity to ride bicycles to a forest where koalas resided, and we took koala populations by collecting and analyzing their poop. Next we stayed with local farm families. My group had the opportunity to feed all the animals and milk goats. After the farm stays were concluded, we went to Cape Tribulation where we went on a night rainforest walk. I found this extremely exciting since we could see eyes glowing with our flashlights of several types of insects and animals. Next, we went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. We had some free time to swim and explore it, but we also looked at and counted populations of different fish and compared it to previous results. Lastly, we visited a wildlife habitat that had different birds, reptiles, cassowaries, and kangaroos and wallabies. We even got to feed and pet the kangaroos and wallabies.

How did this experience impact you academically?

With climate change becoming a bigger issue each day, my generation needs to learn ways to become sustainable and make efforts to help our atmosphere and environment. I learned about topics, issues, and cultures that I never would have had the opportunity to learn about if I had not studied abroad. I have firsthand experience with what is happening to our planet with the changing temperatures. I also have experience with efforts that can be taken each day and over a long period of time to help reduce our carbon footprint. This experience has severely helped shape aspects of my life that were weak before.

I learned about topics, issues, and cultures that I never would have had the opportunity to learn about if I had not studied abroad.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

After I graduate, I would like to have a career in event operations. My plan is to eventually leave Pennsylvania and live somewhere warm year round, preferably California. My goal is to have opportunities to work in arenas and hopefully go into the music festival industry. Near my house is a music festival called MusikFest which attracts thousands of people from all over. Although I want to leave PA, I would like to try to get my feet wet and gain experience at a smaller festival before I move on to a bigger one. The music festival Coachella is located in California. It is my dream to work for this extremely large music festival. My study abroad trip impacts these goals because festivals are typically outside. If there are severe climate and temperature changes, what will happen to these outdoor events? Traveling by car and airplane to come to these events also has significant impacts on sustainability and the carbon footprint. With the knowledge I learned abroad, I hope to create new and innovative ways for people to attend concerts that will not be so damaging to the environment.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely recommend this study abroad experience. Sustainability can affect every major and every study. If the Earth deteriorates, many jobs could be lost since they would no longer be necessary. This experience will teach other students how their impact matters and steps they can take to help keep their dream job alive and needed.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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