I have always been fascinated by marine ecology, so the summer between by sophomore and junior years of college, I participated in an independent DukeEngage project working to help restore coral reef ecosystems near traditional villages on the Fiji Islands. DukeEngage is a fully funded summer service program at Duke.
The fringing coral reefs on the Fiji Islands are vital to the local community. Contrary to the perception that Fiji is a tropical paradise free of woe, the rural villages are plagued with economic and environmental issues. The reefs that supply these communities with food and sustenance are dying due to climate change, over-fishing, and pollution from industry and construction. My main project was to help my supervisor, Victor, plant heat resistant corals in the marine protected areas near the local villages.
If you would like to read more about my DukeEngage project, and the things I learned about sustainability, community engagement, and my personal growth through civic engagement, I have written several lengthy blogs on my experiences on the DukeEngage website. Please visit the below links.
Slow & Steady – My first impressions of conservation work.
Swimming Against the Current – A detailed description of how to “plant” corals.
Diving into a Homestay – What I learned living with a local family.
Blog, Story, Picutres – Literally a reflective blog post with a funny story and scenic pictures.