Becca Smith ‘19, visited two towns in the central valley of Costa Rica during an alternative spring break trip, where she learned about Costa Rican culture and how the community practices sustainability in their daily lives and agriculture.
How did this experience impact you?
It taught me a lot about how other cultures live and interact with their environment. In the villages we visited, most people knew the names and medicinal properties (if any) of all the plants growing around them. I feel that I now have a better idea of a different way of life and set of values than those in the US, which will help me make more educated choices and decisions when they affect the world around me. I also feel a greater connection with and appreciation of both the environment and world around me. I now more strongly believe that humans are integrally connected with the environment and have seen a positive example of this in Costa Rica.
What did you learn about yourself during your experience?
Most of what I learned about myself has to do with my growth as a leader. I led a group of nine peers, having only met them a few times before the trip. I learned that I handle stressful situations where I have to think on my feet very well.
How did this opportunity enhance your experience as a CNR student?
As an Environmental Science student, I am always learning about ways to protect the environment and conserve resources. In Costa Rica, I got to see these ideas in practice and it was especially impactful because Costa Rica is such a small country but has about six percent of the world’s biodiversity. It was also very inspiring that everyone I met in Costa Rica was very knowledgeable and passionate that the problems that face our environment.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
I loved getting to live in Costa Rica in small villages actually with Costa Ricans. I feel that I have a much better idea of what Costa Rica as well as more respect for it’s beauty than if I had stayed on a resort at the beach and hardly gotten to speak to Costa Rican people. I also loved getting to see Costa Rica’s appreciation for and relationship with it’s nature.
Any advice to incoming students thinking about your major, field of study or research focus?
I would advise you to try out as many different things as possible. Environmental Science is a very broad field which can be both great and intimidating. But I would also advise you to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone – because it is out of your comfort zone that you grow!
What do you enjoy most about being a CNR student?
I love how unique the college is! When I was looking at schools to apply to, CNR immediately pulled me towards NC State. I love how CNR invests a lot of time into helping their students grow as individuals and members of society. I feel very appreciated and important as a CNR student.
What other scholarships, organizations or student groups are you involved in? Do you hold any leadership positions?
I am in the clogging club and a part of Dance Marathon at NC State. In terms of leadership positions, I am a WISE village mentor and led the previously mentioned ASB trip to Costa Rica.