Our new (and youngest) SITE4Society interns introduce themselves to our community, describe what led them to SITE4Society and share their dreams about how they are planning to use this experience to contribute to societal challenges of their home countries.
My name is Laura, and I am a 16-year-old girl from Spain, where I lived my whole life. I just came to the United World College Maastricht this year to start with my International Baccalaureate diploma program, a step in my life, which is really exciting for me. I really enjoy challenging myself and exploring new pathways in life. These last four months that I’ve been living in Maastricht is definitely one step that helped me to grow since this is the first time that I live away from my family, my country and speak a foreign language.
The culture and opportunities that United World College Maastricht is providing us, are also helping me to develop even more. The school environment where I live right now is very international and diverse, with students and staff from all around the world. I also have the chance to build upon my personal passion in Biology and Chemistry, which are the subjects that I would love to explore more in the coming years. The highlight of our studies though is the Service Programme of our school, which is giving us the opportunity to collaborate and engage with the local community, working with an organization of our choice.
This is why I’m here, in SITE4Society!
We live in a world where there are a lot of problems that need to be solved. And I believe that science has the power to solve many of them. I love the idea of using our knowledge to give something back to society. This is why I chose to work with SITE4Society. As an intern here, I could learn more about topics that interest me and learn how to take actions that could really make an impact on people’s lives!
For example, nowadays, people consume too much. Our whole mentality is about consuming, and this can be seen with events like Black Friday. However, people often don’t know about the damage that those events cause to our planet. In my home country, the youth is still ignorant or absent from the discussions about environmental issues or climate change, something that I want to change. Having good communicative skills will be crucial for engaging the people into getting involved in these problems, which is something that I will surely learn thanks to skills-building programmes of SITE4Society.
I believe in the principles and values of SITE4Society, i.e., even with the best science, innovation and technology – the problems may not be solved unless we start with some form of engagement.
I will work hard to bring my own perspective and knowledge about the world to SITE4Society, as well as my skills in social media and communications. I also look forward to listening to all the amazing and inspiring people that work here, who will surely shape my way of looking at the world.
I’m Loïs-Julien (LJ), 17 years old. I was born to French and Senegalese parents and spent the last three years of my life in Senegal before hearing about the United World College in Maastricht. I applied to the school under the promise of being part of a community of students who, like me, wish to use knowledge as a resource to create peace and sustainability. I have found myself in this community which has become home, and it has helped me link to organizations and people with the same goals and ideas.
In my boarding high school, my subjects of focus are Analytical Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. I hope in the next five years to begin my dream as an aerospace engineer (the root reason behind this), but I also have an interest in the ethics of science and green engineering, sparked by an ESA (European Space Agency) conference I attended while in France that outlined the sustainable future of space exploration. I had the chance to witness the innovative solutions proposed by the world’s leading scientists united to solve a common problem; almost sci-fi-like possibilities that were coming to life under a masterful mix of creativity and reason.
Contact with SITE4Society
I found out about SITE4Society at UWCM, which had reached out to Maria Tomai coordinator of SITE4Society to explore possible internships for its students. It first caught my attention as it seemed to call for my French-speaking skills, but after the first online meeting with her where she outlined all the activities of SITE4Society (SDG briefs, intern workshops, action research), I found that its similarities to my desired career path were more numerous than I could have ever predicted. I think the missions of SITE4Society and myself are complimentary in nature: I see SITE4Society as a force to use scientific research in order to achieve sustainability on a large scale, and I wish to incorporate the ideal of sustainability in the creation of self-sufficient technology and science; both fields complete the other and contribute to making the other more meaningful, more relevant, and SITE4Society is the natural precedent to make my mission come to fruition.
Being part of SITE4Society would not only give me the chance to improve my science communication skills in both French and English, which is a soft skill that I would need in any branch of engineering, but also to enhance my creativity, by allowing me to create content around different sustainability issues and SDG-relevant initiatives. For example, an aspect I want to bring attention to – is businesses created by locals, which are based on the principles of environmental sustainability and the promotion of the heritage of African fashion. That is a way for me to use my culture set as a different lens through which the betterment of the organization will be made possible.
Working with SITE4Society is not just an opportunity to develop myself and fulfil the necessary service hours required by my school, but rather a source of inspiration and the perfect platform to give attention to all the sustainability initiatives and examples of entrepreneurship that I had witnessed in my home country, and everywhere else across the world.
For instance, I would like to share experiences, like the one I had in 2018 , when I assisted a village-led initiative concerning the conservation of the mangrove biome near the northern Gambia border while allowing for a more controlled management of the socio-economic potential that it offers; mainly tourism, apiculture, control of freshwater, and fishing (which particularly helps towards women’s emancipation because the large majority of mangrove fishers and mollusc collecting is done by women in villages).
Moreover, I hope that my experience with SITE4Society will inspire me to create my own projects to help my community back home and promote its sustainable development.
I see SITE4Society as my first dip into the “deep end”, an opportunity to use my skills to better the world. I hope that we will use this chance to act to its full potential and create a more aware world while helping to achieve Prof. Ramani’s vision statement of creating an ever-growing web of researchers and students who work together to provide information as to the completion of the SDGs.
Let’s get working! 🙂