COD Student Learns about Sustainable Energy and Central American Culture in Belize

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

COD Student Learns about Sustainable Energy and Central American Culture in Belize


College of DuPage student Matt Rohde, with HVACR Program Coordinator Bob Clark, recently visited Belize for hands-on work with sustainable energy and its uses in Central America.

According to Clark, the trip came about through the encouragement of fellow educators and a successful application to the College's Global Education Initiatives program available through the Field and Experiential Learning, Study Abroad and Global Education office.

He noted, however, that the trip was no day at the beach.

"When I tell people that I went to Belize, they think that I was sitting on a resort and drinking Mai Tais," Clark said. "It was more like sleeping in harsh conditions, working in the heat of the day, and experiencing life as a Mayan villager. Our group experienced both island cultures and inland cultures. We were not on vacation, we were there to work."

Administered by Madison College, this year's study abroad service learning experience included 11 participants representing four community colleges. Students had the opportunity to learn about renewable energy technologies while making a difference in the lives of people in the developing world. During the trip, students engaged in hands-on installation of renewable energy systems, while learning about the geography, history and culture of Belize and the Central American region, as well as learning how issues of energy, the environment and economy in developing countries differ from those in the United States.

"When I heard about the trip to Belize I jumped on it," said COD student Matt Rohde. "I am very passionate about sustainability and renewable energy, so the ability to help people while also learning about one of my passions sealed the deal and made me decide to go."

Rohde double majored in economics and management and earned his bachelor's degree from Elmhurst College, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Currently employed at Tradewater, a company dedicated to improving the quality of the environment and creating economic opportunity through the collection and destruction of greenhouse gasses, he is also completing the Building Environmental Associate degree program at COD. He described the trip as a "robust blend of technical and cultural learning."

"The primary focus was technical in nature; our group performed maintenance and installation of PV modules. …

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