Program of Study: Natural Resources Conservation
Country of Exchange: Los Banos, Philippines
Why did you choose that region of the world?
I chose to study in the Philippines because I was looking to discover a different culture, to learn about tropical ecology and to explore the beautiful beaches and forests of the tropics. The University of the Philippines in Los Banos appealed to me for its international connections with the World Rice Research Institute, SEARCA and other forestry and agriculture organizations. Also, the school offered courses that could transfer to UBC easily, were interesting and were taught in English.
What was the highlight of your exchange?
One of the most memorable experiences of my exchange was traveling with my forestry professor to the Ifugao mountain region of the northern Philippines. We were meeting with indigenous rice farmers living within UNESCO world heritage sites to help record information on degraded landscapes. These people lived much in the same way as their ancestors had for thousands of years before; growing rice in terraces, raising fish and practicing forestry. This experience alerted me to the fact that communities such as these are facing increasing pressures from the outside world and that measures must be taken to prevent loss of culture and environmental integrity.
I plan to work with indigenous communities to develop forestry management initiatives that respect social, cultural and ecological values and promote economic wellbeing. In the fall of 2012, I will begin my Masters of Science in Forestry this year in Europe and through it, hope to gain an understanding of sustainable forestry and natural resource practices around the world.