Shelby Sharpnack spent the summer studying marine ecology and conservation through CIEE on Bonaire, Antilles. She got to experience the mysterious and vast world of underwater life. Throughout the trip, she and the rest of the group traveled to over twenty different dive sites observing and researching the reefs’ wellness and growth. In the classroom, she was taught about the dangers to the world’s largest natural resource and how simple changes in our lifestyles could make a big difference in the health of the sea. An important part of her educational experience in Bonaire was getting her emergency first responder training and AED training, allowing her to provide assistance to professionals in emergency situations. In the course of her studies she immersed herself in the culture of Bonaire; a small island that revolves around the diving industry, the sea, and the fishing. Shelby’s schedule began to resemble island time: she woke up every morning at 6:00 a.m. and went for a mile long swim in the ocean or for a long walk, had class and diving until six at night, would eat and study and then be in bed by 10:00 pm. In her free time she enjoyed talking with the people of Bonaire and the Netherlands, even picking up on some of the native language, Papiamento, which is a mix of Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese. Additionally, Shelby participated in several clean-up dives, scouring various reefs for debris and environment damaging objects. She also taught Bonaire, Dutch and American children how to swim at the local swim club. As a result of all of her experiences, the trip to Bonaire changed Shelby’s outlook on her career goals. She no longer wants a job that keeps her in an office or lab all the time, but a job that she could travel the world trying to find ways to better conserve the diversity and environment of underwater world she fell in love with during her time in Bonaire.
CEE Title: Embody the Rhythm
For her CEE, Shelby helped to create Embody the Rhythm, a cultural dance event which highlighted their individual international experiences. In each journey, they experienced passion – for a culture, for a country, for a people. The team shared this passion with an audience of over a hundred people in the O’Hara Ballroom at Pitt Oakland. The audience enjoyed a delicious spread of appetizers catered by Sodexo Food Service followed by twenty-one short cultural performances representing countries as diverse as China, Greece and the Ukraine.