Curaçao?! What’s that?
Hello everyone! My name is Alexandria Noumena (Bishop) and I am going into my senior year at the University of South Florida with a bang! My major is in Marine Biology so of course I jumped at the opportunity to attend a Caribbean Marine Conservation course in Curaçao. Curaçao, also known as Netherlands Antilles, is a Dutch Caribbean island about 65 km (40 mi) north of the Venezuelan coast. It is best known for its old-world European architecture, it’s picturesque bays and coves, and turquoise water that is home to a variety of ocean life. Due to its historic participation in the African slave trade, much of the island displays African heritage in its choice of cuisine and language. The language spoken in Curaçao is called Papiamentu and is a Creole language derived from Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and African and Indian dialects.(https://travel.usnews.com/Curacao/).
Despite the somewhat dark history of environmentalism and the onset plastic and carbon crisis facing the functionality of our planet today, I am determined to make a difference. Although changing the world seems unreachable at times, I have agreed upon a mantra that suits each day anew: I can do what I am able to do. To me, doing what you are able to do is the most that an individual can accomplish in the day-to-day. Whether that means buying food in bulk, using your own reusable cups, to-go containers and bags, skipping unnecessary plastics and choosing sustainable clothing and seasonal food items, it all matters because it’s what you CAN do. It is for this reason that I have decided to pursue a career in conservation.
Thanks to the scholarship received from the Mark and Kay Orr International Affairs Study Abroad Scholarship, I am able to pay for my tuition and flights to and from Curaçao and I can learn to understand, preserve and rebuild important coastal ecosystems. Once established in Willemstad, the capital city of Curaçao, I will partake in a field-intensive experience, spending a significant amount of time beneath the surface observing and investigating marine life. This course will provide a hands-on approach to researching and monitoring techniques used by field marine biologists, giving students like me a better understanding of marine ecology in the Caribbean, particularly regarding coral reefs. I will have the opportunity to log enough scientific dives while in the Caribbean to earn full scientific diver credentials through the American Academy of Underwater Sciences! Stay tuned for GoPro footage of some worthwhile sea creatures and other updates from my adventure!