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News & Press: GMIC Global News

GSMF 2011 Student Scholarship Perspective

Wednesday, December 14, 2011  
Posted by: Tamara Kennedy-Hill
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Gianna L. Stone, San Diego State University

GMIC 2011Sustainable Meetings Foundation Scholarship Winner : Student’s Perspective

At the 2011 Sustainable Meetings Conference, Amy Spatrisano ended her speech, at the Future Leaders Forum, with a phrase that made me realize how gratefulI was to be at the conference,"You are the future." I would like to start off by saying thank you for the great opportunity.Receiving the student scholarship was a great honor and it was a privilege to be chosen. I learned more in three days than words can explain, but I will do mybest to express the knowledgeable information I have gained. Green Meeting Industry Council provides an insightfor planners, suppliers, and venues seeking to meet sustainable meeting standards. GMIC, through this conference, opened my eyes to sustainability in a whole new light. I never quite understood the possibilities sustainability has on manyprofessional businesses.Throughout the conference, meeting many different business professionals allowed me to realize the opportunities that lie ahead of me.

Beforecoming to this conference, I was merely a student studying Sustainable Tourism and now I see beyond the narrow mindset of many students. Whenchoosing a major many students focus on what has beenaccomplishedin the past and not what couldbe accomplished in thefuture?Studentsstick to the course description and continue to have careers like everyone else. The conference showed me the many options sustainability plays in many different careers. Attending the conference allowed me to think outside the box, when thinking about my future. I do not have to choose a job according to the title of my major but, rather consider, what my major can do for my job. I learned that the Sustainable Meeting Conference had many sustainable advocates but it also held a handful of people willing to learn and implement the new sustainable lifestyle to their everyday jobs. Sustainability is continuously an issue, natural systems are declining, and populations and per capita consumption are increasing. A step to resolve this problem would be a sustainable society with responsible practices. Sustainability should create profit while protecting the environment and improving the lives of humans.

My favorite aspect of the conference was the networking and the community service project. I met business professionals from all over the globe and they were open to answering any of my questions. They seemed to enjoy sharing their words of wisdom, as well as learn what a student’s perspectivewas on the conference.It was fascinating to hear how the professional planned on implementing what they learned from the conference into their everyday job setting. The community service project, building bikes for the Boys and Girls Club, was creative and fulfilling. It was great to see a room full of adults enjoying themselves and laughing uncontrollably. Everyone was completely enjoying himself or herself, while competing in a friendly competition. Even though my team did not win the competition, the feeling wereceived when we handed the bike to the boy was overwhelming. The only flaw of the conference, for me, would be the length of the philanthropic event. I would have enjoyed half a day to a full day of community service. I believe itis important for those of us, who can do so much, should share the time we have with others.

Attending the Sustainable Meetings Conference was a step in the right direction. Being reminded of all the ways to be sustainable, allows me to contribute what I have learned to my summer abroad program. Summer 2011, I plan on traveling to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for an internship through San Diego State University. SDSU is seeking to assess Punta Cana in terms of meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goalsand potentially certifying Punta Cana as sustainable city with the UN. Unfortunately there is no set way to go about assessing any one place to determine if they meet a particular goal or not. In other words I will be determining what is the necessary data to collect, how to collect that data and how to synthesize and interpret all that data into a report that makes the argument that PC deserves to be a sustainable city and meets all of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. This work will almost certainly not be completed in one summer but the idea is that both SDSU and Punta Cana Ecological Foundation will continue to build off of my work moving forward. This project has the potential to be a really innovative working experience for myself because I will essentially be the architect of something totally unique. The Caribbean is one of the most data starved areas in terms of meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals and I cannot wait to begin my research this summer. My experience in Punta Cana will not be limited to working on just one program, Punta Cana has many volunteer options: coral reef restoration, working to conserve sea turtles, reintroducing the worlds most endangered hawk to Punta Cana, replanting mangroves, the options go on and on.

The GMIC Sustainable Meeting Conference was a wonderful educational experience. It opened my eyes to new opportunities and options in my future. I will take what I have learned from this conference and apply it to my summer abroad program in Punta Cana. It was a great networking opportunity and allowed me to expand my horizon to a greater future. Thank you again for the scholarship, I truly appreciate everything you have given me.

Kind Regards,

Gianna L. Stone