Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Student Profile: Nicholas Ochi

Photo: Nicholas Ochi

What has been your favorite class? Why?
My favorite ESP class was probably Philosophy of Health Science East/West because it gave such a holistic viewpoint. Though I struggled in the class with grades, I thought it was very rewarding overall. Ironically, my second favorite class was probably Watershed Geomorphology, my most advanced science course, and far removed from Philosophy of Health Science. If not for the intriguing science behind geomorphology, I benefitted from learning how to prepare/present a scientific report.

A professor who has particularly motivated or inspired you? Why
Noah Snyder has inspired me because of his passion for what he does. It is refreshing to see a professor who is interested in his work and that passion becomes contagious. You want to do well for him, and what’s more, I know that he seriously considers all of my work and gives meaningful, helpful feedback with every assignment. Each time I get something back, I feel I become a better student and more prepared to hand in good work. It also does not hurt that he used to be a ski bum at Snowbird, UT (that is about as good as it gets credentials-wise in my book).

Have you studied abroad, gone on an immersion trip/ alternative spring break in which you were able to address topics that you have studied as an ESP minor?
I went on an SIT program to Vietnam entitled “Delta Ecology and Resource Management.” The program featured field-based learning so we got to travel up and down Vietnam and even into Cambodia via the Mekong River for two weeks. As long as we were outside talking about our environment, nature became the classroom which made for a truly incredible experience. In general, my time in Vietnam connected me to the distant world that we often forget is marginalized by our actions here in the U.S. While science, data, and graphs alone won’t do the job in convincing us to change our actions and curb climate change, time spent abroad can. By travelling, seeing other parts of the world, and getting to know people on a personal level, the effects suddenly become real and the problem becomes urgent.

I also hoped to share a particular story that, again, encourages us to do something to protect our environment. While in Vietnam, my group visited the Can Gio Biosphere, a massive mangrove forest about 40 km outside of Ho Chi Minh City - the nation’s largest city. On top of supporting local livelihoods, the forest acts as HCMC’s buffer against coastal damage and cleans the water coming in and out of the city. During the Vietnam War though, American planes dropped enough Agent Orange to effectively destroy this massive forest. The people there were devastated, as an important ecosystem and the source of many local livelihoods was no longer there. Estimates for the time of recovery were in the hundreds of years - making apathy an easy choice. But the Vietnamese chose hope. They worked to accomplish restoration and developed a plan immediately. Collectively, citizens from the area literally scoured the area and planted seeds for new trees of an entire forest hand by hand. It was an enormous project that easily could have seemed pointless at the time, but they payoff was great. As I visited some 30-40 years later, I looked out over the mangrove forest from a watchtower, and as far as I could see, there were enormous, healthy-looking trees that now acted as an effective ecosystem – a truly beautiful sight all things considered. All of this just goes to show that even when the problem seems too big, there is no better time to act than the present, a mindset that will have great benefits down the road.

How has your experience of the Senior Seminar been? What has it been like to be among so many other students from different departments and academic majors?
I enjoyed this seminar and hearing the opinions of students from various academic backgrounds.I think the class would be beneficial earlier in our time at BC and would be a good course for all students here

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