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.

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!