This is a guest post by Greenpeace Semester 2013 alumnus Vinnie Roncelli.
This summer was one of the most exciting and eye-opening summers I have ever had. I spent the last six weeks in Washington DC with seven strangers from all over the world, whom I now call my dear friends. We joined a program called the Greenpeace Semester, a program for young people to learn about environmental and social injustices around the world and the many ways we can combat these issues to create a more sustainable and peaceful planet.
I am a fourth year student at Central Michigan University studying political science and environmental policy and have always considered myself an environmentalist. I enrolled in this program hoping to get a better understanding of the issues we are facing; I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The weeks were packed full of discussions about every environmental issue ranging from deforestation to ground water contamination. I started to become overwhelmed with this knowledge about environmental degradation. I thought, there is so much destruction, how can we ever solve these problems? And that is where the real fun began.
We started to learn about grassroots organizing and how it can create real change in our communities. I started to think about these issues in a way I have never thought of before. With the help of dozens of trainers, I no longer dwell in these seemingly unstoppable problems. Instead, I look at them in a way where we could strategically stop them. I have learned more about community organizing and becoming a true leader in the past six weeks than I have in the past 21 years, and I have never felt more empowered!
The days were long and we worked hard, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get to explore our nation’s beautiful capital. The other students and myself had more than enough free time to have some fun in the big city. We got to see this nation’s history through museums and monuments and its diversity through its abundance of people, food and music. This entire summer was packed full of what, in my opinion, every student wants out of their summer: a chance to meet some truly amazing people, learn how to create real change, and have the time of your life the entire time. I will never forget my summer with the Greenpeace Semester and am looking forward to seeing all the amazing things these passionate activists do with their lives.
The Greenpeace Semester is accepting applications for our fall term (Sept-Dec). Apply here by July 1 for priority consideration.