Durham College’s (DC) International Education office in partnership with the service learning organization, Students Offering Support (SOS) took five students from the School of Science & Engineering Technology’s (SET) Environmental Technology and Chemical Engineering Technology programs on an international outreach trip to Chuinajtajuyup, Guatemala. DC volunteers spent 12 days working alongside SOS and the citizens of Chuinajtajuyup to help combat climate change’s affects on agriculture.
“It was uplifting to work with Durham College volunteers within the environmental field,” said Jamie Arron, executive director of SOS. “Their professors, students and staff embraced the cross-cultural exchange with the utmost respect and demonstrated a distinct hunger to learn.”
Students learned from and collaborated with local farmers on the impact of climate change in the community. Volunteers brainstormed and presented ways to combat and reverse the damage climate change had wrought on the agricultural industry. By discussing issues and creating initiatives, DC students helped local farmers make a lasting difference.
“We are very proud of our students for undertaking this opportunity to broaden their learning and gain life changing experiences,” said Michelle Hutt, executive dean, SET. “Study abroad endeavours like these truly enhance the relative connection for our students here at DC.”
While abroad, DC and SOS volunteers tackled several climate change challenges. They spent two full days planting trees to combat further soil erosion in the area–a necessary task due mass deforestation in the region. But they didn’t stop there. They also organized a fundraising event to improve the community’s access to water, giving people access to a clean, reliable source of water, a luxury that many take for granted. The rest of their trip involved installing a drip irrigation system for optimal water usage, and the expansion of a greenhouse, built for housing crops that DC and SOS selected specifically for the community’s needs.
“Durham college students, professors and staff were able to meaningfully support community-driven adaptation strategies to climate change through the combination of cross-cultural knowledge exchange, economic contributions and hands-on support to environmental projects. Our local partners called it a dream come true.” said Arron.
Within a short span of time, DC students made a positive, lasting impact on the world by building greenhouses, planting trees and improving access to water; ultimately showing that their dedication, selflessness and success, matters.
DC’s International Education office is pleased to support students who go on education abroad experiences through the International Travel Bursary program.