Shawn Decker
Environmental Science
Class of 2011
King’s Faculty-Led Program
Peruvian Amazon & Machu Picchu, Peru

How did you select your Study/Intern Abroad location?

I saw an advertisement for faculty led short term study abroad classes being offered. Peru – Tropical Ecosystems was one of the options, and I immediately was interested in learning more about the program.

Why did you want to study or intern abroad?

I have always wanted to visit the rainforest and to visit South America. What better way than to fulfill a dream and a 3 credit class requirement towards my major in Environmental Science.

What were the highlights of this experience?

Overall it had to be the jungle itself. Machu Picchu was amazing also. Some of the major highlights included seeing spiders bigger than my hand, trees that were several feet across and several hundreds of years old, playing soccer with Peruvian kids, and experiencing different foods.

What surprised you the most?

Mostly the way people lived. I have never before visited a developing country. Even the poorest of our communities seem so much better than the average village in Peru. It really changes your perspective on things.

How has (or how might) this experience affect your major and future career?

I have learned some of the biological and environmental issues affecting the tropical rainforests of the world. Raising awareness of these issues in countries like the US could have positive impacts on the preservation of these areas. While eco tourism does cause damage to ecosystems, it’s considerably less than destroying the whole thing. I will likely use these principles in my future career of conservation and restoration of ecosystems.

What would you tell students considering studying or interning abroad?

Do it! I was a bit apprehensive about going at first but I’m so happy I did. I had so many amazing times every day and will remember them for the rest of my life. I know I appreciate what we have and take for granted in this country more than I did before. If you have the opportunity to go, you won’t regret it.

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