In January, I was given the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream by going to the Galapagos Islands, which are off the coast of Ecuador. We were there for a week with one free day in Quito, Ecuador, five days on the boat, and one day dedicated to travel. Walking around Quito the first day was so much more than I had imagined it would be. We saw what life in Ecuador was like from the hustle and bustle of the markets, to riding the crowded buses and eventually camping out on a church stoop to avoid the pouring rain. We found a little bakery that sold all different types of pastries and cakes for quarters, so our group took advantage of that snack for the rest of our walk. Quito is a city that is full of breathtaking architecture and an upbeat vibe that made it hard to leave, but this was just the beginning of what was yet to come.
As we boarded the plane to head to the islands, I was overwhelmed with an uncontrollable excitement for the adventure that was about to happen. I knew from the start that this trip was going to be one I would never forget.
The water was so clear that you could see the creatures clearly through it and the air was so pure I couldn’t get enough. Being on the same islands that Charles Darwin was once on sparked my internal adventurer and I couldn’t wait to begin exploring. Every time we went snorkeling I would find something new and intriguing to indulge in and that left me wanting more.
The first reef shark that swam by me was something I will never forget because I was frozen with a mix of shock and fear, but by the end of the week we all could swim around them like professionals. Seeing the animals up close and personal without them running away was something I will always hold in my heart because there was no fear for them, they just lived their lives as they pleased. One of the coolest encounters I had was with a sea lion who decided to hang out with us on the beach and had no problem being the center of attention for us to take pictures with him.
In my entire life I have had a profound love of nature and always had an idea that it could be something I could turn into a career. This trip completely solidified that desire to devote my life to environmental science because the Earth is a beautiful place that gets taken for granted, and I want to be someone who can make a difference. It was reassuring to see somewhere so pure and well taken care of where the inhabitants of the islands were free to live their lives as they pleased. The islands belong to the animals just as much as the animals belong to the islands. They thrive together and the struggle together naturally with very little human impact. I want to be able to bring awareness to those who do not understand the impact they have on the world, and hopefully someday everyone will appreciate the environment the same way I do.
Kylee Wilson is an environmental studies major. Her trip to the Galapagos was funded in part by The O’Leary International Travel Grants Program, which provides financial awards of up to $2,000 to help offset travel costs for students in Le Moyne’s College of Arts and Sciences participating in study abroad programs. This grant program is administered by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences and funded by a gift from the estate of Dr. Harriet L. O’Leary, professor emerita of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Environmental Studies at Le Moyne,