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Published: August 07, 2023

Award Recipient Studies Conservation in Indonesia

Jasmine M. Villavicencio ’24 spent six weeks in Indonesia this summer, studying biodiversity and conservation and learning the Bahasa Indonesian and Javanese languages.

Award Recipient Studies Conservation in Indonesia While in Indonesia, Jasmine Villavicencio hiked Mount Ijan. Photo courtesy of Villavicencio

Villavicencio was the recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship. She also won the department’s Critical Need Language Award.

Villavicencio found out about the awards through the UT study abroad office, and Edward Pompeian, an assistant professor of history, assisted her with the process of applying.

As an international studies major, Villavicencio’s chosen area of focus is Latin America. She has traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, the Maldives and the Dominican Republic. When she learned about the opportunities with the State Department, she was ready to go somewhere unfamiliar to her, as she felt she would benefit more. She had never been to Asia, and she would have the opportunity to speak critical-need languages, which she saw as a good sign.

Her favorite part of her travels was learning the languages and learning from other students and local people, she said.

One of the things she learned, was “the effects of human impact are a lot more complex (than she realized),” she said, “I got to see so many examples in one country,” like how local communities were implementing conservation projects. This reinforced her desire to make a change in the world. The trip also confirmed that she wants to pursue international work after graduation.

Villavicencio also got to have some fun in Indonesia. She hiked Mount Ijen in East Java, which she said was “one of the most intense things I’ve ever done, but also very rewarding.” She also had the chance to snorkel with manta rays off the island of Nusa Penida.

For students who might want to travel abroad, Villavicenio advises to do your research and find out what you are passionate about.

“It is possible,” she said. “There are more opportunities than you think!”

After graduation, Villavicencio hopes to do one of several things: get a Fulbright English teaching assistantship, continue working in Indonesia, volunteer with the Peace Corps as an international educator or become a diplomat.

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