Vietnam

Jessica Breslau

Organization: SIT: IHP Climate Change Comparative
Dates: 6-Sep-13 - 18-Dec-13

In Jessica's own words

How I contributed: The program was a comparative study in food, water and energy across the world. Being that we were only in each country for such a limited amount of time, we could not cover each topic extensively, however I felt that my greatest competition to this program was simply listening to the locals whom we met with and listening to their daily experiences. We met with farmers, fishermen, engineers working in renewable energy and the problems that they faced were in many ways very similar to the problems that people of the same profession in the U.S.A are facing. Listening to their stories put into perspective the greater issues at hand, and allowed me to gain perspective of how things need to change on a global scale, rather than viewing each country or profession as a different entity.

What I felt most challenged by: The schedule of the program was very rigorous and your independence is testing daily. At school you have the ability to gain access to almost anything that you want and need at nearly any time. On this program, many of the social norms were set up by the host family, with little room for adjustment, and there were many times when the internet was unavailable in the midst of a research project. It is not to say that these challenges were impossible, however it becomes apparent how much we have come to expect, and how such expectations are not the norm in every place.

What I enjoyed most: Experiencing the different cultures, cuisines and politics were my favorite aspects of this program. Although the program is focused on a comparative view of climate change, there is so much more that is necessary to digest beforehand. Learning about the politics of each country made the process of environmental policy evaluation much more interesting.

Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend it. I think that it is rare to experience so many different cultures, climates, economies and policies in such a brief amount of time, and although it is quite hectic, the comparative aspect of the program put many things that I learned at Cornell into perspective on a greater scale.

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