3 September 2010

The mid year break wasn’t a holiday for all University of Queensland students with a group of keen, wildlife and environmental management enthusiasts heading to South America to see what they could find in the depths of the Amazon.

This year for the first time the group of 19 students headed to South America for an action-packed trip for the 2010 Short International Experience course.

Whether they were canoeing down the white water in the Amazon jungle, snorkelling amongst Sea Lions in the Galapagos Islands, or trekking the Andes of Peru they were learning by doing which was one of the key goals of the trip.

Course Co-ordinator, Associate Professor Peter Murray from the UQ School of Animal Studies said the Short International Experience course was an excellent opportunity to not only reinforce what students were learning in the classroom but also to add value by giving the experience of meeting and learning from people from other cultures.

“This is the first time we took a group of students to South America and it was a fantastic location for the students to learn and gain an understanding about a range of wildlife and natural resource management issues that could be demonstrated in South America and contrasted to approaches in Australia,” Associate Professor Murray said.

“They also get to meet and speak with people who have been working in ecotourism; hunting and poaching; cultural heritage; wildlife, protected area and sustainable natural resource management.

“By the end of the trip all of the students really grow as individuals and from previous studies we have conducted it is clear those students who take part in the course, their grade point average increases.”

The students said it had been a worthwhile experience.

Jonathan Handreck, a Bachelor of Applied Science student majoring in Parks and Wildlife Management said: "What an experience!"

"Spotting monkeys in the Amazon jungle, being guided around Machu Picchu, getting up close to an anaconda and playing soccer at 3,700 metres above sea level and I still found time to write in my diary everyday and undertake an exam in a hotel foyer," Mr Handreck said.

“This is a once in a life time opportunity, and it also contributes to your degree.

"So if you’re keen to see other places of the world, experience other cultures and have life long memories, enrol in the Short International Experience.”

Erin Duddy an international student from North America also went on the trip and she couldn’t agree more.

"It was a very enriching experience that broadened my horizons," Ms Duddy said.

"I can't wait to finish my degree so that I can travel again and see more of South America.

"I learned more on this trip than I ever could have in a classroom."

The Short International Experience course is run each year in the mid-semester break. The trip is usually to South Africa but in coming years it will alternate between South Africa and South America.

For more information visit http://www.uq.edu.au/study/course.html?course_code=AGRC2015

Media: Erin Pearl, 07 54 601 229 or 0409 265 587