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Hawaii Internships: Changing Your World in Paradise

By Culturalecology Subscribe to RSS | December 6th 2011 | Views:

Changing lives through marine internships and ecology internships is the mission of the Institute for Cultural Ecology. Both of these tracks come together in our Hawaii internships programs.

Alison Metz, a former biology major and competitive swimmer at UC Santa Barbara, enrolled in I.C.E.’s marine internships program after hearing about it from two teammates who had participated in it. The course, which involves extensive backcountry hiking and wilderness camping amid the spectacular and diverse natural scenery of the Hawaiian Islands, focusses on reef internships and study in remote locations.

Metz claims to have benefited most from the time away from the daily grind to reflect on life and consider her future. "I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do, and that was of the greatest impact. I really learned to slow down, and I think that's the best thing I could've gotten from the trip. I think I took a little bit of that home with me. When you're in college, you try to fit eight thousand things in one day, and there, your task for the day might be setting up camp or collecting bananas or … free diving and picking algae off rocks to analyze … It was a slower way to live. When I was dreaming of hawaii internships, this was what I imagined."

Metz, who had never been camping before, also enjoyed that aspect of the experience. "I think I learned the most from the group interaction and the challenges of the hikes and the camping." She tells of one particular experience that made an impression on her. "There was a hike that took five hours that went through eleven canyons and valleys that was a pretty big deal, because we wound up back in the forest where no one goes, and there was a local there who collected coconuts and bananas for us and made us dinner. It was an enlightening experience to realize people do live off the land that way."

Clearly, the reef internships differed from her day to day life. Metz goes on to ruminate, "We've adapted in a very weird way, in that we sit at our computers all day, and it had a huge impact on me to live that way for six weeks and to realize that we're actually supposed to be doing that … There you're going to sleep with the sunset, you're waking up with the sunrise, and everything's different, even your body. I've never felt so healthy. And if you allow it to, it really makes you ponder what the point of life is -- like, should I be outdoors enjoying the beauty of this world every day or should I be inside crunching on my laptop?"

The flagship program for the Institute is called Intern Around the World. Here, Students are able to choose from ecology internships, marine internships, and reef internships in Hawaii, Fiji and Australia. I.C.E. runs a program called Intern Around the World, a multi-country experience focusing on reef internships in Hawaii, Fiji, and Australia. Anna Lindhjem, a participant in the Hawaii internships aspect of Intern Around the World observed, "There was a sign we saw on the wall of a hostel in Maui that said 'Be a traveler, not a tourist,' and I think that's what we really got to do."

Culturalecology - About Author:
Dr. David Adams is a cultural anthropologist who founded the Institute for Cultural Ecology in 1999. He is the author of Samsara and Season of the Loon, both available at The Institute is an ecology internships provider company that specializes in marine internships and reef internships. To learn more about the hundreds of intern abroad and study abroad options in more than seventeen countries see

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