A conversation with SIT alumna Nneka Walker (Birmingham-Southern College)
Nneka Walker’s experience studying energy and culture on the SIT Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics program opened new doors academically and personally. Upon arriving in Iceland, Nneka began interacting regularly with Icelanders. “I may have been a stranger, but I did not want to seem like an intruder. I was not just there to visit. I was there to learn.”
Her motivation and enthusiasm to learn from Icelanders made her time in Iceland exciting and constructive. Having a strong interest in the country’s history, Nneka notes how the sagas of the Vikings, ancient landmarks throughout the country, and Icelanders themselves truly brought history to life.
The program’s language component was a lesson in intercultural communication that transferred beyond Iceland’s borders. Nneka recalls that “the best part about learning the Icelandic language was sharing and practicing it with Icelandic students back at my US campus!”
Nneka’s interest in green energy grew as a result of the program’s lectures, and she has been able to apply these themes back in the US. She is incorporating green energy into her research as a biology major at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) and in her public policy service-learning class in which she volunteers at a local organic farm. Her academic interests have pushed her to pursue an internship in renewable energy upon graduation.
Nneka also sees many possibilities for green energy in her own hometown. “I learned that there is a huge potential for solar energy in my town [and] now I can determine how it can benefit my community. Those aspects will also play a huge part in my future career goals.”
Nneka is proud of how her experience in Iceland has influenced others. She understands how stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can be difficult but has encouraged friends to do so.
She recently inspired her two roommates to study abroad in Europe.
Nneka wants to take her SIT Iceland experience even further: after college, she hopes to attend the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand for chemical and mechanical engineering.
SIT’s Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics program explores all aspects of renewable energy: from its sources in nature, to its technological utilization, to its social and environmental impacts. The program allows students to work with critical issues in resource economics while taking an Icelandic language introductory course, enjoying a homestay, and seeing the vast Icelandic landscape.