To many, the four letters JBIP do not mean anything, but means the world to TEDxCharlotte 2011’s home, Queens University of Charlotte. Traditional third-year students in good standing with the University are given the opportunity to participate in The John Belk International Program (JBIP). Each year, countries all around the world are selected for students to apply to for this once in a lifetime travel experience. This year, twelve students and three professors were handpicked to partake in a journey to Micronesia with hopes to assist in preserving the environment, adapt to a different culture, earn valuable skills, and have fun.

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Throughout the month of May 2011, this group worked with various environmental agencies to help improve the Yapese resource management and cultural preservation efforts. One of the biggest projects was mapping the eradicated areas of an invasive species of grass, imperata, with GPS devices. After the data was collected with the devices, the new information was added into digital maps, using the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Since 2001, Queens has been helping collect data annually for this project.  Because of this effort, Yap is very close to gaining complete control of the grass, which is unheard of.

Along with working in the fields, the group spent time scuba diving, mangrove kayaking, hiking, biking, sightseeing, and interacting with the locals. Sleeping on a cot in the tropics with no air conditioning and one large room shared with 15 others brought the group closer and challenged them in various ways. Each day was filled with work and activities so that the participants could gain as much experience and education from the trip.

To learn more about the group’s journey, visit the group’s blog written in Micronesia.

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