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conversation AND conservation

| Judy Berthiaume

As a Spanish major and Latin American Studies minor, Tessa Stransky has found multiple opportunities to immerse herself in Spanish-speaking countries during her undergraduate years. Already, she’s honed her Spanish language skills through study abroad and other immersion experiences in Costa Rica and Spain. This fall, Tessa is again immersing herself in the Spanish language, this time in Panama. She’s completing an internship — and earning service hours — by working at La MICA, a biological research station in Central America that’s mission is to conserve the local history, culture and environment. Much of her work involves educating people about the many venomous snakes that live in the region, an area that lies within a threatened habitat area in Panama. Using her language skills, Tessa is translating snake bite action plans into Spanish for local communities, and is helping prepare the workshops the research station offers about venomous snakes. The goal is to increase awareness so people are less fearful and better prepared to protect themselves from the snakes. Through her daily interactions with the people living in small and large villages throughout the region, Tessa is developing her Spanish skills and her understanding of Central America. At the same time, she is furthering conservation efforts that are important to the future of the rainforests she’s grown to love. Through Conversation AND Conservation, Tessa Stransky is becoming a more engaged and educated global citizen while also supporting important conservation initiatives … and that’s pretty powerful!