Nothing—not cold, fog, or flu—could dampen the excitement UM students felt on a six-week odyssey through China and Vietnam to study water resources and policy with professor of coastal management and environmental law Daniel Suman. Combining environmental research, cultural immersion, and classroom credit, Suman, of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, launched the exchange two summers ago, subsidized by a grant from the International Programs Offices of the ACC University Consortium.
With this course, Panamaborn
Suman, whose grandfather
was Chinese, is forging strong
ties with prestigious academic
institutions in those countries
while establishing sustainable water management plans for the
region and training future leaders to protect global water resources.
There is no substitute for seeing “polluted lakes and rivers with your own eyes,” said UM senior Alexandra Sabater. “No description can accurately convey the pea-soup consistency of water that seems to have been invaded by the contents of a giant jar of green finger paint!”
In addition to attending lectures at Vietnam’s Hanoi University of Mining and Geology and Yunnan University’s Asian International Rivers Centre in China, the 20 undergraduates traveled with an equal number of Chinese and Vietnamese students to important water resource sites and cultural landmarks. In Vietnam they saw the Red River, the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site, a water treatment plant, a mangrove restoration site, and fish and shrimp aquaculture ponds. In China they visited wastewater treatment plants and reconstructed wetland sites, biked along the restored banks of the Palong River, and even climbed a glacier.
“No longer will I have to rely on books, the media, or other people’s stories to have insight into the Chinese and Vietnamese cultures,” said student Marlena Skrobe. “I can finally say that I know firsthand what these countries are like. I loved every minute of it.”
Excerpted from Miami Magazine