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Julie Fornaciari

Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2014
Home Institution: 
University of Pittsburgh-Oakland
Heinz Programming Area: 
Environment
Study Abroad Country: 
Australia
International Experience

Julie Fornaciari embarked on a five week adventure through Australia learning all she could about alternative energy and Australia. Through class discussions and speaking with the various professors, Julie learned more about the alternative energy methods that existed in Australia as well as in America. The classes had a large scope of topics that allowed her to understand how the different energy is changing, advancing and affecting the people who use it and create it. Through the field trips Julie embarked on, she was able to see a cooperative wind farm, an emissions free sugar mill, the largest Uranium mine in Australia, an energy efficiency learning center to educated the people, a company that uses food waste to generate power, a center for education and research in environmental strategies as well as so much more. The field trips not only allowed Julie to see how truly innovative Australians are, but to spark her imagination and passion to propose some action in her own community.

Julie’s program lead her to many different places, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns. All of these places allowed her to stretch herself as she started new in every place. The nights she spent in hostels allowed her to engage with travelers and Aussies alike. She learned more about the opportunities to travel as well as about other cultures including the Australian culture. All these places leave her with memories she will never forget. Her favorite, besides fulfilling some of her bucket list items, was when she camped with the Demmob group, aboriginal cultural tour guides. Julie was truly able to embark on a journey into the land of a culture she was unfamiliar with. By listening to the guides as well as speaking with them at the campfires, she saw the true and utter respect Australians have for the land. Another aspect of the culture Julie found out was the drive to be active and daring. As Julie left Australia, she is able to say she kayaked with dolphins and in the roughest waters the instructors even experienced, white water rafted (and fell victim to the Aussie humor of being tackled into the water) through the Daintree Rainforest, fulfilled her three bucket list items of climbing the Sydney Bridge, seeing the Sydney Opera House and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, and lastly, she faced three of her biggest fears, holding a snake, swimming with sharks, and bungy jumping, thanks to the encouragement of friends and Aussies and delved into activities with full force, like an Aussie.  

Community Engagement Experience

The Environmental Sector CEE that Sage Lincoln and I brainstormed, organized, and publicized for the University of Pittsburgh-Oakland and the surrounding communities was a two part series on the environmental issues that affect the Pittsburgh community. The first part of our CEE was a debate about fracking and the economic opportunities, climate, and water resourcing affects. Two professionals in the field, a professor from each University Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University came to speak to a diverse audience on this topic. Fifteen minutes was not enough time for them to cover everything, but they brought about a lot of discussion in the round tables that we held after they each presented. The larger crowd, over a hundred people, was able to ask thought provoking questions and learned an incredible amount about the topic. The second workshop incorporated what they learned the previous week to the social justice aspect of the environmental issues. We facilitated a training workshop on these issues where we brought about many topics of what is environmental justice, where is it seen in our society and what can we personally do about it in our communities. The training allowed people to discuss what was important to them and brainstorm solutions on how to make an effort to address these issues. Together these programs lent a helping hand to make the University of Pittsburgh be more aware of the issues that they are, have, or will face in the environment. Hopefully we were able to show them that this large, global problem does affect them in their daily lives.

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