KOKOMO, Ind. — A trip to a beach on the other side of the world helped Carolina Anaya Pico see the impact one person can make on global issues.
While visiting England with the Indiana University Kokomo Innovation Symposium, Karla Stouse, who leads the program, showed her how the rise in tourism means the once-pristine sands now harbors trash left behind by those who visit.
“That trip shaped my way of looking at the world,” said Anaya Pico, who will graduate in August 2017. “With consumerism on the rise, people are polluting the environment. You see these changes in places that used to be perfect, like Cartagena, where I grew up.
“There is definitely something we can do to make a change,” she added. “The little bit you can do isn’t going to change the world, but it can make an impact, especially if you get other people involved. We can use our ideas and our passions to improve things.”
She’s considering her options for making a difference after she graduates — including potentially specializing in immigration law, or working in political communication, inspired by the 2016 presidential election.
“It made me want to be involved more, even though politics has gotten a little out of hand,” she said. “I want to think there is some hope, and I can do my part to make things better.”
The Innovation Symposium is one of three international travel opportunities Anaya Pico enjoyed as a student. She’s also traveled to South Korea and Guatemala as part of classes she has taken while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
“The professors create these trips in a way that you aren’t just a tourist, “she said. “You get to interact with people who live there, and you learn so many different things you wouldn’t by traveling on your own. IU Kokomo makes it affordable to travel internationally.”
Guatemala, which she visited during spring break 2015, was most surprising to her —she expected it to be like her home country of Colombia since the people speak Spanish.
“I had never been to Central America, but I expected it to be similar because of our common language,” she said. “There are similarities, but I was warned it is really different, even with the same language. I got to see in person how close our cultures are, but also how far away they are from each other.”
The South Korea trip in May 2014 was her first time in Asia. She and the other students ate authentic meals in homes of local residents, attended church with them, saw eastern medicine in practice at a hospital, and visited the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea.
“South Korea was amazing,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing how the people live there, and comparing it to my own individual culture, as well as American culture. All three of my trips were different and impacted me in different ways.”
Anaya Pico graduated from high school in Cartagena, and chose IU Kokomo to fulfill her desire to earn her college degree in another country. Her experience surpassed her expectations.
In addition to her international travel opportunities, she’s worked on campus as a Spanish language tutor and in the Cole Fitness Center, and served in student government. Currently, she is IU Kokomo student body president.
“I’ve accomplished so much, and made such incredible bonds with friends, professors, and staff,” she said. “I made a big transition, being only 17 years old, my first time going to a university, with classes taught in another language, and living in a completely different culture.
“Some people see a small campus as a disadvantage, but I think it is one of the best things we have. We’re so personal, and your classes are taught by experts in our field. They’re there to help you, and they want you to succeed. The relationships with faculty is something students shouldn’t take for granted. It’s amazing, and it makes us grow.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana