Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 26, 2019 at the 13th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Though the event is over, and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.
These are their stories.
José Chiquito is in his third year as a Sustainability Studies major at Goshen College. He was born in Mexico and has lived in Goshen, IN since he was three years old. Currently he is dedicated to developing his newly launched podcast on ecojustice, identity, and food called Ecotiva Radio.
Indiana INTERNnet: You are a student at Goshen College majoring in Sustainability Studies, correct? What made you interested in pursuing that?
José Chiquito: I became interested in pursuing an education in an environmental field after I went on a school trip to the Florida Keys as a junior in high school. My high school uses the marine biology station owned by Goshen College to expose students to the vulnerable marine ecosystems of the Keys for the week of Spring Break every year. This was a highly impactful experience as I was able to witness the devastation that these ecosystems are facing. We saw coral bleaching, human waste in every habitat, and learned that the Keys could all be underwater within our lifetime. All that, as overwhelming as it was at the time (and still is), ignited a passion within me to be someone who could contribute to solutions. That led me to eventually pursue a degree in Sustainability Studies, which focuses on the environment and on the agency people can have to change the systems that led to the crises we face all over the world.
IIN: Describe your internship experience with the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem (BCE2). What were your favorite aspects?
JC: BCE2 modeled all that I had been learning about sustainability and community engagement. It demonstrated what it would look like to be in a professional sustainability setting during a time where the field is so young, and examples of sustainability professions are just being created. The kind of team work, independence, and tools to coordinate with multiple stakeholders were all critical experiences and yet another window into what a sustainability job is. I was placed in the West Side, a large neighborhood in South Bend, with a team of five other interns to participate in a pilot program of BCE2 that we later named the West Side Educational Ecosystem, or WE2. Our overall mission was to build community and introduce who our group was. We had conversations with neighbors, local businesses, and we even organized a community clean-up day after learning that it was a priority for residents of the West Side. The clean-up day was a highlight as we were able to picnic with West Side residents after some making the neighborhood a little cleaner.
We had important mentorship and guidance from La Casa de Amistad, a bicultural community center in the neighborhood, and from the West Side of South Bend, who lent us their building as a workspace right in the neighborhood. That was valuable, as it gave us a first-hand experience of the West Side. The building was in a cluster of small businesses, most of them owned by Mexican families. We were next to Taqueria Chicago and just across the street of La Rosita, a Mexican ice cream parlor. Needless to mention, it was a summer full of great connections and plenty of ice cream.
IIN: What are your future plans and career goals?
JC: After I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in sustainability, doing similar work that BCE2 does with a focus on food and urban resilience.