Working to Establish EnviroLab Asia: A Student Perspective

Working to Establish EnviroLab Asia: A Student Perspective

CMC Music and Environmental Analysis double major Grace Stewart shares her experience over the summer as EnviroLab Asia’s first intern.

 

“I enjoyed the opportunity to explore a new place with a group of professors and to learn how to build a project from the ground up…”    – Grace Stewart (Class of 2017)

MakeSingaporeOurGardenI spent a good part of this summer working as the intern for the nascent EnviroLab Asia project of the Claremont Colleges. I’d like to share the following aspects of my internship: the clinic-planning trip in Singapore, my day-to-day duties in the office, and most importantly, what I learned from this experience.

I originally learned about the opportunity to intern for EnviroLab Asia from my voice professor, Anne Harley, as well as from my environmental analysis professor, Char Miller. As a double major in Environmental Analysis and Music, I was intrigued by the idea of a cross-disciplinary project from the start. The internship began shortly after the close of the school year with a week-long trip to Singapore, the “Garden City.” The 50-year-old country where you can drive across in under an hour (depending on traffic), is where EnviroLab Asia will be conducting fieldwork, in collaboration with Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) and local non-governmental organizations in January 2016. This summer visit was an exploratory trip to plan for the “clinic,” or fieldwork, in which members of EnviroLab Asia would participate in come January. I was more than excited for the chance to travel outside of the United States for the first time.

BoatTrip-cropped
Boat trip to southern islands

Our group was comprised of Claremont Colleges faculty, a staff member, and a student (that’s me!). We traveled here to learn more about Southeast Asia and also met with Yale-NUS College faculty and staff. Seeing as our trip was only one week, our days were very full. From meetings discussing the theme of this year’s research clusters to a boat trip to the southern islands to sightseeing excursions in Little India, these full days were well-spent and highly educational. A few things that stand out in my mind when I think about Singapore are: great public transportation, amazing food (and so much variety, with a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures), and beautiful scenery.

I enjoyed the opportunity to explore a new place with a group of professors and to learn how to build a project from the ground up by watching them interact in meetings at Yale-NUS and with various NGOs. I especially appreciated learning from people and organizations “on the ground” in the areas our team is researching (i.e. Southeast Asian environmental issues such as oil palm plantations). I realized that there is so much to be learned from existing groups’ challenges and successes.

From this experience I have developed a newfound appreciation for the rich history of a region of the world about which I knew next to nothing before this internship. I have been inspired to explore my own career options in the field of environmental analysis and possible ways I could also incorporate my love of music. In addition, I had the opportunity to conduct preliminary research about environmental issues in Southeast Asia. The experience has enhanced my ability to research and compile sources.This was a rewarding internship filled with memorable experiences, and I am excited to see how it progresses from here!