Most of us strive to go around the world to see and experience new places. Thanks to UTC Center for Global Education, who provided a scholarship, I was able to go to San Salvador Bahamas with my class to do research.

First let me tell about the beautiful small island San Salvador located in the Bahamas. Like most Caribbean islands, the island contains white sandy beaches with a combination of electric and deep blue water. Walking barefoot though the beach a variety of colorful seashells can be found, especially huge Queen Conch shells! On the rocky shores, dark fossilized coral from ancient reefs can be admired. Despite the island’s rocky landscape, the inland is green with vegetation. Birds could be heard singing all around, but not always seen. The Gerace Research Center, a research facility, was the place we spent most of our time in and where students from other schools could be met.

What made this trip important to me was the research because I am studying to be a biologist. Our class project was to update the information in the guide for the trials found behind the Gerace Research Center, which had not been updated for 24 years. We wanted to observe and record what changes had occurred, since multiple hurricanes have passed the island. My group’s section was from Garden Cave to Pain Pond. We took samples of plants in our section and leaned how to identify them, later recording them as data. We also took samples of our ponds, Crescent and Pain. We tested the water and did research on previous data to see if there was any change. We had an opportunity to dissect an Atlantic lugworms egg sac and we discovered shrimp in the mud of Pain Pond! Doing all of these activities helped me gain important skills required for field research.

This trip gave me the opportunity to learn about Bahamians, which previously I had little knowledge of. We had few interactions with locals because we spent the majority of our time in the research facility. However, we were able to learn from our special speaker from the Ministry of Tourism. We were able to learn about the island’s history and the people’s thoughts on Christopher Columbus. What surprised me to learn was how the island struggles with immigrants, their concerns like the ones found in America. It was interesting to learn about the economy from an island with a small population.

I would recommend other students to take the class and travel to the island. My advice for future students would be to bring tons of bug spray because the mosquitos can be bad. I highly recommend they should try the delicious conch fritters and fried barracuda from the nearby fish fry.

I am thankful for the experiences I was able to have by going on this trip. I hope to go back to the Bahamas in the nearby future.

Itzel Guzman Hernandez is majoring in Biology. She participated in a faculty led trip to the Bahamas during Spring Break, 2018. Itzel had the following to say about her time abroad, “I traveled to San Salvador, Bahamas for Spring Break! Such a colorful island with beautiful blue waters and greenery. During the trip, I was able to gain important skills needed for field research. I would recommend going and experiencing what this small island jewel has to offer!”

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