Friday, 4 May 2012

An international fieldtrip to Florida

As part of the Erasmus Mundus Flood Risk Management course, each student is fortunate enough to be provided with a monthly scholarship, from which a proportion is automatically taken each month to contribute towards the enticingly mysterious "international fieldtrip". In Dresden, as the course commenced, the vague information fuelled much speculation about the destination for the trip - 'Asia' was mentioned, many had their hearts set on Bangladesh, whilst other were hoping for somewhere Latin American. Ultimately, I think we were all agreed on hoping that the trip wasn't to the local river at the bottom of out street in our home country!

In early 2012, the mystery was answered and our location was announced: 17 days in Florida with the rest of the Hydroinformatics group from UNESCO-IHE. A collective sigh of relief was sighed with no American students in the group and much excitement quickly ensued.

The fieldtrip is part of an existing exchange and partnership between UNESCO-IHE and a number of organisations in Florida; namely the US Geological Survey and the Florida Earth Foundation, with contributions from the University of South Florida, South Florida Water Management District and the Department of the Interior.

The fieldtrip will take place from the 23rd May until the 7th June and is now rapidly approaching. With our visas applied for from the US consulate in Amsterdam, hotel rooms booked and base-tans being sought in anything that resembles sunlight, the group are raring to go now!

An initial draft for our schedule when we are in Florida can be seen here, containing a vast number of activities and lectures at an equally vast variety of locations. We will be closing our trip by attending the 9th Intecol International Wetlands Conference in Orlando, where the group have been bestowed the responsibilities of water ambassadors. We are greatly honoured by this privilege and look forward to making the most of the opportunity presented to us. As students, we are available for sponsorship, as water ambassadors, by firms from here - organisations have been welcomed to provide sponsorship to help continue the exchange program long into the future and all interested are advised to view the previous link.

But, for now, there are 18 excited students in Delft, researching sunglasses, sandals and swimsuits.

by Richard Vause

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