Meet the new Sustainability Intern!
Who am I?
Hi! My name is Naima and I’m a third year MA Sustainable Development student. I’m originally from Germany but have lived in a few different countries throughout my life. I’ve been involved with various sustainability groups during my time at St Andrews, such as the Sustainable Development Society, the Environment Subcommittee and the Feminist Society. I was really excited to spend this year at Western University in Canada but unfortunately, due to Covid-19, my year abroad was cancelled. This is why I’m now working with the Global Office as their Sustainability Intern for this semester!
What does my role involve?
My position revolves around addressing all sorts of sustainability issues related to Study Abroad. This includes writing blog posts, like this one, to help both outbound and inbound students consider the sustainability-related impacts their placement is having and how they can address these effectively. Other tasks include developing social media and pre-departure resources that raise awareness of sustainability in the context of Study Abroad, as well as updating the ‘Where Can I Go?’ Study Abroad destination webpages to include sustainability information about each partner university. There is a lot of variety and flexibility in this job, which is great!
Why do I think it’s important to think about sustainability in the context of Study Abroad?
The topic of sustainability is one that is ever-present in our lives and can be related to pretty much anything we do. Perhaps the most obvious connection to Study Abroad is the fact that we travel not only to reach our destinations, but to explore surrounding areas and to come back home. This can amount to a relatively significant carbon footprint, one that is perhaps higher than in your usual year. Thinking about the impact we as individuals have in this sense is important and can help guide the decisions we make when planning for Study Abroad.
Still, what people tend to forget is that sustainability is about much more than limiting one’s physical impact on the planet. The environment is definitely an important aspect to consider, but it should never be treated as a lone concept that is separate from other societal issues. All of our actions have consequences that can be much further-reaching than we might think. So, what does this mean for Study Abroad? I think that in the first instance, studying abroad is a learning experience. Whether you choose to take sustainability-related courses as part of your curriculum or volunteer with local groups that have a particular sustainability interest, your time studying abroad is full of opportunities to get involved. Learning about sustainability could also manifest itself in more subtle ways, such as through experiencing native wildlife on a hike or having casual conversations with local people. To me, it is all about opening yourself up to new ideas and using these to create positive change.
However you choose to spend your time abroad (or in St Andrews), try to connect with the places you visit and consider how they are affected by yourself and the wider world. I’m certain that this will leave you more open-minded, perceptive and empathetic – traits that we all need to develop as we try to build a more just world.