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This past fall when I arrived at TBC, I remember hearing all of the staff talk about how TBC was a community and program that wanted to create long-lasting relations with its students. They didn’t just want kids to visit China and travel around for a semester- they wanted students who were interested in using their semester at TBC as a springboard for their future. I had the chance to meet a few TBC alumni who had made the leap to live in Beijing, and at the time was not sure how I would ever be able to get the opportunity to return.

Six months later, and I am already back in Beijing (for the month of August). A combination of my semester at TBC and my interest in environmental health led me to the decision to write a senior thesis for my B.S. in Science, Technology and International Affairs. The topic I chose? Chinese pollution policy and the motivations behind government versus the general public’s actions.

As I met with my thesis advisor throughout the spring and we discussed the options for my research, it became clear that returning to China to conduct interviews would provide me with information that wouldn’t necessarily be available in reports, articles and books that are published in the US. Once I set my heart on returning to Beijing, I immediately applied for every grant and fellowship Georgetown had available to get funding for the trip. Most Universities have fellowships and grants for students who are conducting research or working unpaid abroad, and Georgetown is no exception. I was fortunate enough to get a fellowship with the Georgetown Environment Initiative because my research is focusing on air pollution policy, as well as a grant from our School of Foreign Service.

My month here will be packed with interviews of different professors, organizations and groups involved in environmental policy as well as action on air pollution abatement. During my time off I’ll be working on compiling everything I learn, catching up with old friends in Beijing, and of course eating my way through the city. I am beyond excited to see what I learn firsthand about this topic!

 By Lyssa Freese, Georgetown University, Fall 2014.