Ashley Langer

Major: Environmental Chemistry
Minor: Environmental Studies
Date of Graduation: May, 2012
Date of Travel: June-July, 2010
Name of Trip: Summer 2010 Brazil Living Routes Program
Sponsor of Trip: The McLean Grant and The Garden Club of America
Themes of Trip: Permaculture, Sustainable Community Development, Exploration, Cultural and Spiritual Awareness, Volunteering and Community Service

My summer trip to Brazil was amazing. The program encompassed many different viewpoints into the fascinating study of permaculture.   Permaculture is the study of how we, as humans, can establish a permanent culture within the environment in which we live.   The Eco Centre which was located in the Brazilian Savanna gave me a very unique experience in a different culture with other students from around the US.  The Eco Centre provided the ideal location and atmosphere to not only learn about permaculture, but to actually live in a sustainable permaculture system.  We learned in a traditional classroom setting and then further enhanced what we learned in the field where we participated in constructing a mandala garden, herb spirals, and a cob oven.  Our final design project incorporated all that we had learned in the field and classroom.  This project consisted of designing a permaculture friendly housing development as well as incorporating existing structures on an acre of land on the Eco Centre property.  This was a once in a lifetime experience for me.

Yes, this program is not the most coherent match for a chemist, but at Northland it is an Environmental Chemistry degree.  Countless times a day, an hour, we encounter objects that were made by chemists.  Many of those processes were perfected by them due to deeper research of basic skills needed by pioneer families.  The Eco Centre combined both the scientific knowledge of plants, terrain, building design, and water and conceptual inherent knowledge.  To me, this program helped develop want applications I may one day base my graduated studies on as well as make me more aware of other people, culture and places.

Northland College is a great stepping stone to discover who you are and will become.  The atmosphere is so encouraging to free yourself to create, discover and live.