For Ecuadorian Fiorella Casinelli, studying at EARTH University had always been a life goal. Due to time constraints, however, she missed the deadline and wasn’t able to apply for general admission. So she started studying environmental engineering at Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo (UEES) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In spite of having to embark on an alternate path toward her dream, at 21 years old, she finally secured her very own EARTH experience.
In the midst of her studies at UEES, she learned about a graduation requirement: a 600-hour pre-professional work experience. Not missing a beat, she recognized this as her opportunity to head to EARTH.
She arrived to the EARTH campus in January, after being accepted by RAI, the University’s office overseeing study abroad programs and international experiences. For three months, she put her education into practice by working in EARTH’s Integrated Organic Farm, under the guidance of Arnoldo Ávila, the farm’s manager.
The following is the transcript from a conversation with Fiorella.
What have you liked most about EARTH?
“The University is precious in every sense. I liked my schedule. I worked only in the mornings and, depending on the day, I would go to the Integrated Organic Farm, the cattle farm, the peri-urban garden or the collection center. In the afternoons, I had the opportunity to attend classes about renewable energies and animal production with the other students. The professors are experts in their fields, and I loved every minute of the experience.”
What about EARTH’s teaching process stands out to you?
“In the three years I’ve been studying, there are many things I was able to do in EARTH that I had never had the opportunity to do at my university in Ecuador. To all the students studying at EARTH, I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities. The facilities are incredible and all that’s learned in practical. EARTH graduates people who are capable of making real-world decisions.”
How were you received by the EARTH community?
“I felt as though I were with family from the moment I arrived. Everyone welcomed me immediately. Something that surprised me was how confident the professors made me feel, and how I can now call students from many countries my friends. It all was wonderful.”
What are your particular areas of interest?
“I especially like two areas. First, organic agriculture, because it’s linked to personal health, proper handling of crops, reduced use of chemicals, etc. Second, peri-urban agriculture, because vertical growing can be adopted in cities as it takes advantage of limited space and allows you to plant only what you care to eat. This relates to the fact that I am from an urban area. When I applied to the internship at EARTH, I mentioned my desire to work in the Integrated Organic Farm and nothing else. I learned, however, I could coordinate going to other areas that piqued my interest. It was luck that the flexibility to do it all exists because I ended up learning so much more.”
How would you encourage other urbanites to study agriculture?
“Most of the urban population feels how I did: trapped by pollution, traffic, noise, etc. I would tell them to jump into new experiences. A place like EARTH helps you value all you have.”
What do you think of Costa Rica?
I loved it! In Costa Rica, you can travel to every corner of the country in very little time. As I had my weekends free, I came to know much of it: the beaches of Limón and Guanacaste, Puntarenas, San Carlos, San José and Heredia. I had never been to Costa Rica before. I really liked it; each place has its unique features and beauty.
Any other thoughts or comments about your internship experience at EARTH?
It was even more wonderful than I had anticipated. Even though it was an extreme change, I encountered peace living at EARTH. The calls of the monkeys and the birds became my alarm clock. Working, going to classes, and later heading to the pool and more, I led a very active life on campus.
Without a doubt, I would recommend EARTH. The kindness and warmth of its community is incredible. I leave here with EARTH in my heart, and I am certain I will return.
Would you like to have an experience like Fiorella’s? Apply now to be an EARTH student here. Learn more about our study abroad and internship programs for foreign students here.
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