Jessica Sales

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Robert Morris University

Heinz Programming Area:
Study Abroad Country: Cohort Year:  Home Institution:  Programming Area: 
International Experience Summary:

Jessica spent eight weeks in Costa Rica studying the intersections of food systems, conservation, tourism, and sustainability. Whether taking orientation hikes through the cloud forest or speaking to local family owned businesses about their sustainable practices, sustainability was at the forefront of her conversations. These conversations broadened Jessica’s view of sustainability and environmental issues. Jessica had hands on experience investigating sustainable tourism practices such as ecotourism and agrotourism. One very impactful business that she spoke with was the family owned coffee plantation El Toledo that challenged the way she viewed coffee. From learning about the coffee making process, Jessica learned that so much effort, time, and care go into producing coffee and every cup is a luxury. Additionally, through her coursework, Jessica learned that sustainability is a complex issue and  sustainable practices are ever evolving and changing. She was able to further examine this idea through her research project that took place in Mastatal. Jessica’s research group focused on the lack of waste and how tourism impacts waste generated at the ecolodges. As a result, several waste management solutions were presented and potential waste management solutions for the town. Furthermore, traveling with the Center for Sustainable Development strengthened her commitment to the environment through living and being immersed in sustainable living practices. Jessica found that making “sacrifices” for sustainable living such as cold showers, compost toilets, and limiting electricity consumption do not actually have to be sacrifices at all. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Sustainability Panel and Paint

Our CEE was a two-part event that was created to support sustainability throughout our community. First, we presented a sustainability panel to generate conversation and interest about sustainability. Professionals in the field of sustainability in the government, academia, and the workforce served in our panel. We curated a list of questions surrounding topics such as how can individuals in the community make a sustainable impact, what topic is most important to focus on right now with regard to sustainable issues, and what opportunities the panelists participated in that they found the most impactful for making sustainable changes. In addition to our prepared questions we also fielded questions from the audience so their questions could be answered as well. Our panelists shared poignant and relevant information to inspire the community to think about sustainability. Then we created a craft where the community could get involved with a small sustainable project. This part of our CEE was very hands on where the community could actively participate in the event. They had the opportunity to paint their own reusable bags after the panel in order to inspire small sustainable changes. Through the panel, the community learned about ways they could bring sustainability in their lives, and through the craft they could reflect on the information shared. Sustainability starts with the individual. This event embodied this idea and empowered the community to use what they have learned to make lifelong changes.