USM welcomes intern, daughter of the soil
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USM welcomes intern, daughter of the soil

(photo contributed) (photo contributed)

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - After two full years of restoring its academic programming and securing accreditation for its degree programmes, the University of St. Martin (USM) finally opened its doors to student internships from abroad to help push research in the community.

The first student intern arrived this week from the Netherlands to start a study on the feasibility of inserting agroecology and nutrition into Sint Maarten’s system of education. Daughter of the soil Lynn Martina returned to the island from Europe for a four-month stay to work with USM and ECO Sint Maarten Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ECO-SXM), in hopes of designing a draft national plan for the schools with the help of school boards, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, teachers and local farmers.

Lynn Martina (23) is a graduate of Milton Peters College who, after completing her HAVO-level studies, lived and worked in France and the Netherlands in order to get job experience before commencing her tertiary educational trajectory. Currently, she is completing her Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology at the HAS Hogeschool of Den Bosch in Brabant, the Netherlands. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Martina had plans of going to Peru to conduct field work with spider monkeys in the South American country’s Amazon forest. However, after seeing the impact of the pandemic upon her native land, she thought it might be time to come back and contribute.

“Having been in lockdown, I found the opportunity to think about what I really want to do with my life. No one knows what is going to happen from here to next year, so I decided to come back for a spell, to see what I can do for my own country. It’s been a while and I really value this opportunity to get to know Sint Maarten again”, said Martina.

HAS Hogeschool and USM arranged the internship upon official agreement, ensuring that the work Lynn Martina does in Sint Maarten corresponds to the requisites for the completion of her studies.

“I am very excited about this chance to make a significant contribution. I’m in love with the idea of making an impact in children’s lives and influencing education. I can apply what I have learned so far in the Netherlands to Sint Maarten. Imagine, such important topics as agriculture, nutrition and education. Now more than ever, the time is now.”  

The student intern will be working with USM science instructor of biology and agroecology Tanisha Guy and ECO-SXM founder Mr. Denicio Wyatte, a long-time advocate for community centred agriculture and education. Furthermore, Martina will meet with government officials, teachers and school board representatives to get a feel of what already exists, the press release stated. A draft plan for inserting agriculture into the education system, based on a feasibility study, is scheduled to be completed by 15 December -Lynn Martina’s last day of work at USM.  

USM hopes to create more on-island internships possibilities in the coming year, especially for those St. Martin students studying abroad and who might want to spend a summer or semester back home.

“What we hope to encourage is a culture of giving back to the community through research and hands-on projects. It is an opportunity for young St. Martiners to spend time at home and apply what they have learned so far. By putting college and university students to work in key areas of interest, we are sharing knowledge and building bridges to allow for brain gain instead of brain drain,” said USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez.

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