Pre-Trip Jitters!

Hello!  I am Kelli DeThomas, a senior in the Energy and Sustainability Policy program, set to graduate December 2019.  When I’m not busy with coursework you can most always find me playing with dogs.  After the gym that I was managing closed last March I turned my side gig as a dog sitter and walker into a full-time job for myself while I finish up school.  Not only has it been rewarding for me to create such close bonds with all of my “clients”, but it allows me to be outdoors for a large majority of my day and I am beyond grateful for that.  I’m not sure that I could even include taking in nature as a hobby at this point, as it has become an integral and necessary part of my routine.  I take every opportunity that I get to unplug and go hiking, kayaking, camping, or running.  I’m also a very active member in the yoga community at the studio where I practice.

As part of the requirements for my program we have the option to either participate in an internship or a foreign study program.  In order to feed my adventurer’s soul while expanding on my knowledge of renewable energy sources through hands on experiences, I chose to participate in a study abroad program in Iceland.  With 100% of their electricity supply coming from renewable energy sources, there is no better country to visit to get a better understanding of how to utilize our untapped renewable resources and the legislation that makes it possible and functional.  One of their most utilized resources is geothermal energy, which has become a fascination of mine recently, potentially becoming the subject of a capstone project that I am completing this semester.  I am looking forward to seeing the geothermal systems at work and applying it to my research.

Aside from the benefit to my professional career, I chose to take the trip to Iceland with The GREEN Program because of the adventure portion of the trip.  On top of the courses at the university and the renewable energy site visits we will be hiking glaciers, canyoning, and backpacking/camping for two nights.  I truly will be taking in ALL that Iceland has to offer…which is more than I can say for the last time that I was in the country, where all that I saw was the airport (I had a layover there on my way to Scotland, ha ha)!

As my departure date draws near, I will truthfully admit that I am about 75 percent excited and 25 percent apprehensive and anxious.  The root of my apprehension and anxiety is mostly your run-of-the-mill nervousness that comes from being thrown into a new group of strangers, the other part of it is stemming from thoughts of the group capstone project that we will complete over the course of the 9-day program.  While I know that I always bring my best work to the table no matter what, this will be the first time in my recent schooling where I’ll be working in an interdisciplinary group.  I just worry that I may feel intimidated as a policy student if I am in a group with a lot of, say, engineering students.  I plan to use this fear as an area of growth for myself, as I will be working with individuals in many different fields once I get into the working world.  In preparation for both the program and to tackle my anxieties, I have been more active with my google alerts and any sustainability or energy current events.  I bring my best self to any situation when I feel prepared and immersed in the material.

Throughout the program I suspect that we will have a strong focus on goals 7 and 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which are affordable and clean energy and sustainable cities and communities, respectively.  Through learning more about these goals and by experiencing the country first-hand, I hope to broaden the lens to look at how meeting these goals lends to some of the other goals such as social and gender equality, health, poverty, and access to water.  I am hoping that a deeper look at how these goals impact one-another will help to expand my systems thinking.  While we should always be improving in every aspect of our lives, the systems thinking portion of the Student Engagement Network survey was the area where I could use more improvement.  When faced with a situation I tend to want to find a solution as quickly as possible and sometimes I hone in on the most efficient option, while overlooking other viewpoints and externalities.  I’m anticipating that this program will help me to take a step back to look at the broad picture before jumping into decisions.

Over the past two years I have become much more introspective and look for the lesson in every experience.  I am looking forward to seeing how my time in Iceland with The GREEN Program will shape me and I’m really excited that I will be able to share the journey with you!

Until Iceland!


PS:  I have included a few photos of myself – for full personality scope, ha ha – and also, my longest and favorite dog client.