Three Phi Beta Delta (PBD) international honors students received the opportunity of a lifetime when they were awarded partial scholarships to study abroad in Peru this past summer along with five other George Mason University students. The program was headed by German Perilla, a New Century College professor at Mason and director of The Honey Bee Initiative.
The program, which included the course “The Amazon in the Modern World,” took place in July, and the students spent two weeks in rural Peru, traveling to two different communities. The experience allowed students to pursue their own research projects within the intersection of community development and the foundation of sustainable beekeeping to positively impact the community and help them attain their goals. This is a multi-disciplinary program.
“The project takes students who have a basic understanding of beekeeping and its influence on sustainability and allows them to apply what they have learned to what the needs are for that community,” said Kathleen Curtis, assistant director of The Honey Bee Initiative. “The concept of community driven development allows leaders in the communities to say what their community needs are and, in this case, address them through beekeeping.”
While promoting sustainable beekeeping was the key focus, this study abroad opportunity also allowed students and community leaders to engage in additional activities that were both beneficial to the Peruvian communities and related to the student’s research interests.
“This [experience] strengthened my awareness regarding global issues,” said Troy Lowery, a student of the program. “I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and into a world that is often misread and undervalued in modern society.”
Students left the experience with a newfound knowledge and understanding of the applicability of sustainable beekeeping to community development.
“After I complete my Master’s degree, I hope to join the Peace Corps and eventually return to Peru carrying the same bag, wearing the same hat, and sleeping on the same pad I did the first time I was with Professor Perilla and the class,” said Amani Khalil, who completed his last semester at Mason with the class in the Peruvian Amazon.
Stephanie Pareja, a fellow student of the program, says that the once-in-a-lifetime experience would not have been possible without the fiscal support of Phi Beta Delta.
“The experiences and knowledge I have acquired from this trip are memories I am able to carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Pareja. “My experience in the Amazon is one that I could have only dreamed about, and I’m pleased to say that the kindness of the Phi Beta Delta organization contributed to the ability to make this far-fetched dream a reality.”
“Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society at Mason not only sponsors programs and recognizes high achieving students with global experience, but assists students with support towards their study abroad Interests,” said Rita Rowand, who sits on the Executive Committee of Mason’s PBD chapter. “We were pleased to help the students and German Perilla, who is an active faculty member of Phi Beta Delta.”
Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society was founded in 1986, and the organization has since chartered 192 chapters. The Epsilon Delta chapter at George Mason University was founded in 2001 and remains active. See phibetadelta.gmu.edu