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Student Snapshot: Espoir DelMain '21

Espoir Delmain

Saint Paul, Minnesota, native Espoir DelMain ’21 (environmental studies, dance) has had some exceptional opportunities at Dickinson—conducting independent research in Rwanda, attending the United Nations COP23 summit and serving as a Dickinson public service fellow, as a worker at Dickinson’s College Farm, and as an intern for the Center for Sustainability Education and Children’s Center. She also speaks several languages and is involved in a political-activism group in Carlisle. She enjoys finding and nurturing connections between the arts, environmental activism and foreign languages and cultures.

Hometown:

Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Majors

Environmental studies and dance.

Clubs and organizations:

Treehouse, WDCV, the Dickinson College Farm, Divest Dickinson and Dance Theatre Group.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

CGS&E Durden Grant, scholarship to attend River Semester 2018 through Augsburg University, delegate to the COP23 in 2017 with Climate Generation and Public Service Fellowship.

Favorite class/learning experience:

I’ve learned a lot working with Cumberland Valley Rising in Carlisle and as the biking intern last year at the Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) at Dickinson. These experiences have helped me to better understand how lasting, positive change happens and how to support community as something crucial to its success. I also had the incredible opportunity of being part of the Carlisle Mosaic, and I'm looking forward to applying my new knowledge as I continue in my position with the steering committee for Cumberland Valley Rising, serving the greater Carlisle community.

Favorite place on campus:

The upstairs Goodyear Gallery or the WDCV studio (tune into my show, Bloom and Groove!). Maybe also the upstairs of Asbell Center.

Favorite professor:

[Visiting International Scholar in Philosophy] Jean-Pierre Karegeye, who co-taught the Rwanda Mosaic, Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda and Post-Apartheid South Africa. He is so knowledgeable about a variety of topics and manages to weave them together when he teaches them, while bringing his whole self to the content and context. He also organized and traveled with us during our Mosaic trip to Rwanda in May/June and was a big part of the huge success that it was!

Biggest influence:

Growing up, it was just me and my mom at home, so I've felt really lucky and grateful for my family—chosen and biological—who have taught me so much and offered me a variety of versions of life to look forward to, combine and aspire to embody, in my own way.

On studying abroad:

I didn’t study abroad in the traditional sense; my semester off campus involved camping and paddling down the Mississippi River for 100 days. But since then, I have been able to do independent research in Rwanda and take classes at University of California-Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design as well. The highlight of all my experiences has been learning and creating community in small and large ways.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I love speaking different languages! I speak French, German and Spanish as well as some Pulaar and Wolof.

About my internship:

I’ve been an intern with CSE, and this past semester I had the opportunity to intern at Dickinson’s Children’s Center.

The two biggest takeaways I took from my most recent internship were that I tried to cover too many topics at once: cross-cultural education through environmental education, dance education and anti-racism education. But I do feel proud of my attempt to combine them in the ways I could, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I also learned how important it is to tell stories of revolution and resistance, especially when we are talking about injustice, inequity and environmental degradation in the past. Without this perspective, it would be impossible to not perpetuate this same behavior in the future. But if we can incorporate stories of resilience and leverage power for the good, we’ll have a multitude of examples to learn from, and we’ll be able to root ourselves in histories of change-making and move forward in a more sustainable way.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

Most of my family are teachers, so I promised myself I would never become one. But lately I've been getting involved in lots of outdoor and environmental education and in early-childhood education at the Children’s Center. I’ve also become more interested in and been learning about urban planning, so who knows!

In a perfect world … 

… climate change wouldn’t be affecting communities also targeted through other types of systemic oppression, and we could change how we live quickly enough to prevent more nations from going underwater or to mitigate the effects of extreme climate events. Fewer communities would be separated from their land as well as each other, and fewer would be unwelcome when they are forced to search for other homes.

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Published December 9, 2019