Lorena graduated in December 2014 from the stream “Energy Efficiency, Modelling and Implementation”. Nowadays, she works as a professor at a public university in Ecuador. She is also involved in “ReciVeci”, an inclusive recycling project in Quito, Ecuador. She agreed to answering some of our questions, so here is the first #LifeAfterOEP story based on her experience.
What is your current job? And how are you applying what you learnt during the program in your everyday life and your professional life?
Currently, I am working as a professor at a public University in Ecuador. It’s the “Escuela Politécnica Nacional” and I work for the “Technology of Water and Environmental Sanitation” Degree. I use readings and cases from the Masters to prepare my classes. However, the most valuable contribution from the program is that the knowledge I obtained inspired me to create new projects, like ReciVeci (“Recycling Neighbour” in Spanish). ReciVeci is an inclusive recycling initiative in Quito, Ecuador, carried out by a multidisciplinary team of volunteers and waste pickers.
In Ecuador, people do not segregate their waste, which means almost everything goes to the landfill. Waste pickers are the only ones that recover recyclable materials: their work consist in digging in trash cans to obtain materials under unsafe conditions, putting their health at risk.
ReciVeci aims to create a human bond between waste pickers and the rest of Ecuadorian citizens, so they can segregate their waste and give it directly to the waste pickers. We have developed an app that teaches people how to segregate their material and connects them with their local waste picker. By doing this, waste pickers can improve their work conditions, earn more money and receive positive social recognition for their effort. The project is now being tested in a pilot area. We are also doing crowfunding to expand it: we want to replicate it in every neighbourhood of Quito and Ecuador.
What pieces of advice would you give to current students?
I would advise current students to take advantage of all the opportunities that the Masters of Environment provides, such as internships, research projects, field visits, etc. And to get involved in PEN!
I regret not doing an internship somewhere else in the world. The Master of Environment gives a lot of opportunities to work in various international organisations and gain broader experience.
I would tell someone doing a research project not to worry too much about the results that will be obtained, but rather to focus on learning how to actually do research and write about it. I learned more from the process than from the results themselves.
What were the most valuable lessons you took from your experience during the Masters of Environment?
I had the opportunity to work in very multidisciplinary environments with people with different academic and cultural backgrounds from whom I learned a lot about their professional and personal experiences. Also, I improved considerably my writing skills and learned to have a more critical thinking about different topics since most of the subjects required us to write essays.
The Masters of Environment gave me the opportunity to learn from real examples about sustainability in the built environment through the various field trips and visits that the subjects included.
Interesting Note (or “dato de color” in Spanish)
Lorena’s picture was taken on Cartagena, Colombia, where she recently attended the wedding of her first and dear friend from the Masters. BTW, Pablo Devis, congratulations!!
If you want to share your story of #LifeAfterOEP, please follow this link.