Carson Snyder, junior art education major, was one of fourteen Bearcats to visit Chile over spring break as part of the natural sciences core course, Environmental Sustainability in Chile. The students spent time in two cities, Santiago and Valparaíso.
The trip provided students with the opportunity to apply what they were learning in class and gain experience with the material in the real world.
Students were able to experience a different climate and examine characteristics of biodiversity that are unique to the coastal marine and mountainous settings found in Chile.
Dr. Peter Smyntek, the course’s professor and chaperone for the trip, explained that the trip was extremely beneficial because it allowed students to integrate everything they’ve been learning in a new setting.
“It gave them a chance to glimpse at a different culture and observe some ways that the people and government of Chile are responding to environmental challenges of achieving sustainable food and energy supplies as well as protecting and preserving biodiversity,” said Smyntek.
Students went on various unique excursions, including visiting a solar generation facility that has over 700 acres covered with solar panels, a marine biological station where they explored tide pools and learned about edible algae, and a vineyard where they learned about alternative methods of irrigation.
Snyder’s favorite excursion was a fisherman’s tour where the students got to feed sea lions and learn about challenges that local fishermen are facing.
Snyder also particularly enjoyed how the trip was different than just a regular vacation.
“I got to experience things that I never would have if I had come to Chile on my own. Having the chance to go on those educational excursions really made me appreciate what we have been discussing in class,” Snyder said.
At the end of the week, students had a quiz and discussion due to their professor. They will also further explore some of the topics they learned about and complete projects that discuss the differences in approaches between Chile and the United States in solving various environmental problems. They will present their projects at the Academic Conference on April 25.
In their spare time, students had the freedom to explore the city. Snyder visited cathedrals, art museums and a farmer’s market. She also went hiking and went out to a nightclub.
For Snyder, the best part about all of the free time was learning about and experiencing Chilean culture. She was exposed to a variety of new foods, music and dancing. Her favorite part of it all was all of the art she got to see.
“I loved being immersed in a culture that has deep appreciation for art. Valparaíso is covered in street art and graffiti. There was art everywhere I turned, which was a really awesome experience for me,” Snyder said.
Snyder’s time in Chile gave her more experience as an art student and has inspired her to want to continue to travel to see more types of art.
After graduation she wants to become an art teacher.
“Two of my favorite things are art and kids, so this is the perfect career for me. I’ve also always wanted to be able to touch kids’ lives in a special way, and I think art is an important creative outlet for kids,” Snyder said.