Sant’Anna Institute study abroad programs allow American university students the opportunity to complete an academic internship in their field of study. Through a long-standing partnership with the Marine Protected Area of Punta Campanella, 18 students, including author Anne-Marie Molina, have worked with the MPA. Anne-Marie is a junior at Coastal Carolina University studying Marine Science and attending the Fall 2019 semester in Sorrento with Sant’Anna.
While I’m studying abroad, I was so excited to be able to intern abroad too!
I am part of an internship with the MPA at Punta Campanella through an organization called Project MARE, where we promote marine conservation and awareness through activities such as beach cleaning, environmental education, and in this particular case, sea turtle rescue.
In this internship, it is myself along with two other American interns. When the opportunity to watch turtles hatch was offered, I didn’t hesitate to take it. Another intern and I went to Cilento where we were given the first night watch of a sea turtle nest in the town of Ascea. It was interesting to learn that they were monitoring 24/7. The next day I went to another sea turtle nest in San Mauro. We then watched that nest for the next four days taking turns in shifts at night so that we did get sleep! Everyone was ready to watch the nest, and it was lovely to see that type of dedication from people who care so much about turtles and their marine environment. Being from America, there’s a slight language barrier; however, it wasn’t too big of an issue because everyone there tried their best to break it down, It was also nice to learn some Italian while also learning about sea turtles! This gave me a different perspective on how scientists from another culture carry out a sea turtle hatching. If I have the opportunity to see one at school when I am back in America, I can compare it to see how it is done in the American culture. The MARE volunteers made this experience unforgettable. It was fun hearing about where they’re originally from and their cultures, how they grew up, and how their native languages differ so much from English. I loved having that experience with them, and also learn about their experiences of how they got to this point in their education and their lives. All of them are from different countries: Latvia, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Portugal, Serbia, and France. This experience as a whole, with the sea turtles and the volunteers, really opened my eyes to our connection with the land and the Mediterranean.
In America, I live by the Atlantic Ocean and the atmosphere is vastly different. The water is so dirty that you can’t see a few centimeters below the surface, the water is a brownish color, and it overall has a bad smell. It has a lower salinity than the Mediterranean Sea, which I didn’t realize, and that’s also when I realized just how different the environments were, too. After this experience, I felt closer to my dream of being a marine scientist because the Mediterranean Sea is truly one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. It gives me hope that life can thrive, that water can truly be that clear, and that there are organizations like MARE that are full of people that truly care about marine environments.
This experience has also made me love Italy more and has inspired me to come back and continue my marine education here!