Water Policy and a Summer in Berlin!


After weeks of waiting anxiously, I am finally getting ready to depart to Berlin for the summer. During my time in Berlin, I will be interning with a local non-profit called a tip:tap. It focuses on tap water advocacy in order to decrease plastic bottle waste. I am excited to start there because the topic is something I am passionate about and the work environment feels very welcoming and modern.

At Pitt, I am a rising Senior studying Environmental Science and Chinese. My passions within my major lie in Environmental Justice issues and policy/law. I recently worked on a project about local Pittsburgh food security that furthered my interest in environmental justice and policy. I learned just how much the social and economic aspects of our society impact the environment and the lives people lead. I have also done fieldwork with water/fish sampling and research on eDNA (environmental DNA).

I was born in Pittsburgh, but I moved to Beijing, China for about 10 years before coming back to Pittsburgh for high school and college. I have two sisters, one located in Austin and the other in Philly. When I am not in class or researching, I love to knit and read. Currently, I am learning how to make a sheep patterned pair of socks and I am currently reading the book Hell of a Book by Jason Mott.

As I said, I am going to Berlin for the IIP internship this summer and I could not be more excited for the upcoming 8 weeks. I chose this program because of its ability to cater the internships to the individual. Meeting with each student to discuss their personal interests to then then find an internship that fits creates individuality and personal growth. I chose Berlin because Germany is a leader for sustainable development. Having the chance to work in this environment is a one in a lifetime opportunity.

At a tip:tap, I will be working primarily with researching water policy within Berlin and how we can apply/improve policies to support the cause of switching to tap water. I had no idea that Germany is the largest consumer of plastic water bottles in Europe and how large of a problem it was there. Another goal of the non-profit is to build more public tap water fountains throughout Berlin’s neighborhoods. I think this is such a great way to start changing the norm and allowing people to rely on local, accessible water sources.

Personally, I wanted this intern abroad program to be an opportunity to grow further as a person. Although I have traveled before and lived in other countries, I have never done it completely alone. I have always had my parents and sisters as a crutch to lean on when traveling to an unknown country. By coming to Berlin myself, I can truly explore the depths of my independence. This would involve finding food, transportation, places to go, and friends by myself. This will truly test my ability to adapt and step into myself. I am worried about how I will fit into this city, but I think if I maintain an open mind, I can really enjoy my time here.  I also believe this program will allow me to become more reflective. By trying new things all the time, I can really analyze what I enjoy and what’s not quite for me. For example, I may enjoy exploring new shops in the city, but not enjoy the lack of public transportation. I can better understand what I want out of life and the places I live in.

Academically, I hope that this program will be a way I can expand and diversify my experience at Pitt. Attending this university has allowed me to conduct water testing field research, study genomes, attend rigorous classes, and make incredible connections with fellow peers and professors. At Pitt, I wanted to get a certificate in sustainability, but I did not have the space in my academic schedule. I was specifically interested in the capstone project that occurs at the end of the certificate that allows students to create a project about any issue surrounding sustainability. If I was to create my own capstone project, I would have tailored it around environmental conservation regarding air, water, or energy sources. Since this internship is based on water, this would fit perfectly into my interests and what I would have experiences with my capstone.