Though I have already been in Berlin for close to two weeks now, I feel like I should wait before giving any in depth descriptions of my host country. Time for more through observation will help me to see past initial impressions to the heart of the culture here in Berlin. In the meantime, while I wait for my knowledge of the Germany to cement, I will describe what has brought me here to Berlin.
Travel has always been a family event for me. I first left the country in the arms of my mother on a plane to mexico when I was only a few months old. My first trip overseas was to London and Paris. My parent recall with fondness how they found my sister and I stretched out like the tombs in Westminster with our stuffed animals at our feet. Since than I have had the good fortune to travel to many countries in Europe, several in Africa and a couple in South America. On each of my trips, my mother would insist that my sister and I keep a journal. At first it was to prevent us from forgetting how to write during the long summer months and then it was simple for the sake of recording our adventures. I have a nice collection of travel journals dating back to my days in elementary school.
I suppose that education is the main reason my family loves to travel. Why read about world history and foreign cultures when you can experience them in person? In fact, several of my international expeditions have been on school related trips. During my sophomore year of high school, I traveled to St. Petersburgh, Russia with two of my most adventurous history teachers and a retinue of my classmates. There we learned about Russian history, art and culture. It was a fantastic trip. My international educational experiences continued last summer. I traveled to Peru with the Engineering in the Americas before Columbus study abroad program. One of my civil engineering professors taught us about the geotechnical and structural prowess of the Inca. We also completed a service project, building a bathroom for an elementary school in Cusco. From Peru, where is spent nearly a month, I traveled to Ecuador where is was to spend two months at the Amazonian Field School on the Napo River. While at the Field School, I studied Ethnobiology, Ethnobotany, Kichwa Health Nutrition and Population as well as Tropical Ecology. I miss Ecuador every day and I hope to go back someday. These two study abroad programs were vital in my understanding of the world and I would recommend them to anyone! One program was through the Engineering Study Abroad office and the other was through the Arts and Sciences. This gave me the courage to approach the Business Study Abroad office to send me to Berlin on the International Internship Program.
I am fully convinced that travel is powerful means of education. I am also aware of the financial obligations which prevents many students from studying abroad. Scholarships, like the Vira Heinz Program for instance, make a world of difference to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to go abroad. I am determined to start my own study abroad scholarship for students when I am old, wealthy(hopefully) and eccentric.