Bringing home new ideas for the "green-collar economy"
Daniel Brookshire wants the world to become more environmentally and economically sustainable. He gained confidence in how to do that through an internship in India, where he lived in an eco-village and assisted with projects in reforestation, micro-lending and global warming education.
The Appalachian State University senior returned home with a deeper commitment to working in what's known as the "green-collar economy."
"When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke at Appalachian last fall he said, 'Good environmental policy is the same as good economic policy.' I see that coming true," said Brookshire, a sustainable development major from Brevard, N.C. "I learned so much in my internship and I'd like to see if there's potential to implement what I learned here in North Carolina."
From January to May 2008, Brookshire interned with Living Routes' Sustainability in Practice program in Auroville, a community in southern India dedicated to promoting human unity and sustainable technologies.
His work included documenting a reforestation project to correct destruction caused in part by British logging practices 200 years ago. However, he said his most satisfying projects were with the Auroville Village Action Group for women.
"I was helping with a micro-lending program whose main focus was to economically empower village women. At Appalachian, we'd been learning the theory of micro-lending but to see the results in an Indian context was remarkable," Brookshire said.
"I'd like to see if there's micro-lending potential for helping farmers in Western North Carolina. Loans of $10 or $50 go a long way in India, but what about a loan of $5,000 here? That, too, could go a long way," he said.
Brookshire also developed a series of seminars about global warming to help explain why the villages were experiencing out-of-season monsoons. He gathered data, developed easy-to-understand visual aids, and arranged for expert speakers who could share information in the women's native language.
Brookshire also attended a technology fair in Pondicherry, India, and gathered information for other seminar topics such as fuel-efficient stoves and solar collection.
Appalachian prepared him well for his overseas experience, Brookshire said, by providing strong foundations in sustainable development and cultural awareness. Experiencing another country's approach to economic and environmental sustainability has inspired him to encourage more change at home.
"Our practices are costing us socially and environmentally and will continue to do so if we don't change direction. We can reverse the trend we're in by creating jobs in renewable energy and encourage new, small farms that can also create jobs."
Brookshire plans to pursue an advanced degree in city/regional planning and find a job that allows him to approach planning with sustainable development and renewable energy in mind.
He received financial support for his internship from Appalachian's Prestigious Scholarship Program, Honors Program, Office of Student Research and the Office of International Education and Development.
Brookshire learned about Living Routes through Appalachian's international fair held each year on campus. The fair presents nearly 60 international faculty-led programs in over 30 countries and features representatives of other study abroad opportunities, international ventures and global outreach opportunities.