Sharon Mac-george Nwabia ’23, Imo State, Nigeria
Majors: Biology and Neuroscience

Why did you go on a HILT?

I decided to go on a HILT trip because I am very passionate about food waste in America. Being an international student and having a different cultural background, I sought to understand the beliefs and values surrounding food waste, customer choice, and governmental policies in the United States to gain a better understanding in tackling this issue. The HILT trip was a perfect opportunity for me to grasp this important knowledge; therefore, I pursued it.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

My initial interest in the HILT trip was basically knowledge on food waste, but fortunately, I was enlightened on this and many more issues pertaining to environmental issues on sustainability. Interacting with concerned organizations on sustainability, I gained amazing insight on the efforts and goals to promote sustainability in different parts of the U.S. The problems on sustainability in relation to the public were also discussed, as well as the different pathways explored by these organizations for possible solutions.

This is very meaningful information to me because it teaches me the skill to combine perspectives from different cultural backgrounds to seek solutions to fit the various sustainability problems I encounter in life. It is also an eye-opening experience for the realization of the many existing environmental issues in my country and I wish to apply this newfound knowledge not only in my educational community at Concordia but also in my motherland, Nigeria.

I hope that, with the right people, I can work hard to blend ideas and initiate a positive and influential change on problems involving sustainability wherever I find myself.

David Kelm ’22, Brainerd, Minn.
Majors/Minor: Political Science, Environmental and Sustainable Studies; English Writing

Why did you go on a HILT?

I went on this HILT trip because I’m very interested in policies concerning city and state governments and how they are working toward mitigating the effects of the climate crisis. I also am interested in how large cities are coping with homelessness and disproportional effects concerning minorities throughout large cities.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

The trip has helped me get a more in-depth view of how large municipal governments work and cooperate with the different branches throughout the city. It has also given me a better look at the different initiatives taking place across various cities. The most important thing I’ve learned is how to handle discussions with people or groups with differing viewpoints, as well as the strategies for implementing sustainable systems that are both cost effective and conceptually simple.

Anna Bushy ’22, Arthur, N.D.
Majors/Minor: English Literature, Global Studies; Women’s and Gender Studies

Why did you go on a HILT?

I chose to go on a HILT trip because environmental and sustainability studies is something that I am extremely passionate about. I am especially interested in environmental justice and literary ecocriticism. Because environmental and sustainability studies is such an urgent topic of discussion in our world today, I jump at any opportunity I can to expand my knowledge of this subject area in order to thoughtfully contribute to discourses surrounding this issue. I knew that going on a HILT trip would provide me with valuable perspectives to contribute, not only to discussions surrounding environmental issues at Concordia and in the Fargo-Moorhead community but to similar discussions happening at national and global levels.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

The HILT trip has impacted me in a multitude of ways on both personal and professional levels. I have been able to spend a week with nine of my peers from Concordia, all of whom are motivated, inquisitive, and passionate individuals eager to create solutions to issues related to environmentalism and sustainability. Spending time with these people has encouraged me to stretch my capacities for critical thinking and leadership. I have also experienced unique professional opportunities to connect with various nonprofits and municipal governments in the western part of our country, which has provided me with insight into the wide range of solutions available to help mitigate climate change through policies and initiatives addressing issues such as environmental justice, pollution, recycling, food waste, and sustainable infrastructure development. I hope to bring these perspectives back to the Concordia community in order to create a more sustainable and environmentally conscious campus.

Gyanendra Karn ’21, Kathmandu, Nepal
Major/Minor: Computer Science; Mathematics

Why did you go on a HILT?

Even though I am a computer science major, I have had a passion for nature since I was a child. Growing up in Nepal with beautiful mountains and hills, I learned that nature is a resource that provides every animal with their basic needs. This motivated me to participate in nature conservation activities. It was very interesting for me to see what different governments are doing or trying to do to bring sustainable changes in their communities.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

The HILT trip was an amazing experience for me to learn more about sustainability and see what solutions we can bring in my own community to make our daily activities more sustainable. It helped me understand different levels of sustainability from an individual level to the federal level.

That being said, I would like to see some changes at Concordia that would help advance the college’s sustainability goals. Some of the ideas that I would bring are ways to reduce energy usage on campus, changes in water use in restrooms, and food waste reduction in order to achieve our estimated goal and further advance it. I would like to impart knowledge that I learned on this trip with Concordia students and administration.

Kelly Lorenz ’23, Carlton, Minn.
Majors: Biology and Communication Studies

Why did you go on a HILT?

I went on a HILT because I am passionate about the environment and eager to learn more about it. I also enjoy traveling and planning things, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore some new places while learning along the way. I strive to be a lifelong learner and I think this trip was a great way to practice lifelong learning.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

The HILT was nothing but positive. I have become more environmentally aware, and I understand more about policy and how to start making an impact. I have learned so much – it would take pages to share it all. I have a whole notebook filled with notes from the meetings we went to. The big things I want to share with the Concordia community are things such as how to better deal with food waste and how to get people more involved in environmentally sustainable activities. Whether it’s big or small, everyone can do at least one thing in their daily life to improve their sustainability efforts.

Wade Rhonemus ’22, Foley, Minn.
Major/Minor: Biology; Chemistry

Why did you go on a HILT?

I wanted to go for a few reasons. I am very involved in the environment, as I am an avid runner, and enjoy almost every activity. It’s important to me to know what I can do to preserve the great wilderness that we have. I also very much enjoy spending time in the mountains and thought it would be cool to see what is being done to preserve them and their beauty.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

It has made me realize how important it is for us to change our ways of life and focus on the future of our world. It has also been shown to me how big of a difference I can make in my personal life and how big of a difference I can make in my own community. It is also cool to see all the things that organizations and governments are already doing to make a difference in our world.

Nicole Bastian ’22, Foley, Minn.
Major/Minor: Business-Management and Healthcare Leadership; Interfaith Studies

Why did you go on a HILT?

I co-led the trip with Kelly Lorenz because I love to travel and explore new places, and I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved in. I have grown up being taught about the environment and how to help do my part. I have participated in many ditch cleanups and helped plant hundreds of trees. My dad is obsessed with planting trees; he buys at least a hundred every year to plant. So, I was interested in learning what city governments and different organizations were doing to impact the environment and their communities in a positive way.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

The HILT trip has made a big impact on me. I thought it was cool to learn so much more about different states in our country that I had never been to before. I thought our trip was a good mix of educational meetings and fun outdoor activities. I learned that there is a lot of discussion in being sustainable and many places have huge goals, but many aren’t actively working toward it. Although this is disappointing, it makes the organizations that have been able to make huge changes and progress much more impressive. I will bring the knowledge and friendships I gained through the trip with me and, hopefully, together we can start making those changes at Concordia.

Nick McGinley ’23, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Majors/Minor: Elementary Education, Religion; Interfaith Studies

Why did you go on a HILT?

I decided to go on this HILT trip for a multitude of reasons. I wanted to learn more about becoming more sustainable in my own life and implementing more sustainable practices on campus. I also was interested in learning more about how varying communities implement environmental policy into their legislation and practices. My main focus around sustainable practices is the small changes you can make in your lives. Oftentimes, we think about the large policies that will supposedly save the world, yet they are often not attainable in our own lives. Much of environmental policy is talked about and proceeded upon after years of delegation. I have always been interested in the small changes we all can make in our lives that are reasonable in cost and allow people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to become more sustainable. Some of these changes range from LED bulbs, using less single-use plastics, and even thinking twice before we jump in our cars to grab a few things from Target.

How has the HILT impacted you and what did you learn?

I chose to apply for this trip fairly last minute, but I am so glad that I chose to apply. This trip has offered so many great ideas around changes that could be implemented at Concordia and has fostered many open-ended discussions between trip members that probably wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. Personally, I believe that I have gained a further understanding of modern sustainability practices and how to implement them in my own life. One main topic that was brought up multiple times was food waste at Concordia. I believe that as a student population we have so much power to change the trajectory of food waste reduction on campus. Currently, we only focus on the student disposal of food waste. We are not focusing on the production side of the problem. Too much food is thrown away from Anderson Commons that could be either composted or donated to local shelters if it has not been served yet. This is only one area of change that is possible by working together as a student body. As students, we need to take more responsibility for the actions of our campus in relation to sustainability. If we don’t speak up for what is right, and act upon opportunities for change, we are not fulfilling our mission of Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World.

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