‘I’ve always been very much in contact with nature and the countryside, camping and undertaking outdoor activities. After Brazil Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world. We have a rainy pacific coast, a tropical Caribbean coast, the Andes mountains, all with their own ecosystems.’ When Fernando Atuesta Salazar (27) finished secondary school he wanted to preserve the nature he was amazed by. Therefore he studied Environmental Engineering at the Universidad de los Andes in his hometown Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
‘I saw that that beautiful nature was threatened. Bogotá is colourful, full of life, but also a very messy and heavily polluted city of nine million people. Colombia generates 75 percent of its energy from sustainable sources, hydropower mainly. That sounds great, but the truth is less positive. You have to make a distinction between dirty and clean renewable. To generate hydropower dams had to be created in rivers like the Rio Amoy. The dams prevent the migration of many species. On top of that the dams cause sedimentation so that the rivers get full of mud and therefore much less electricity is generated.
You basically create energy without making a negative impact on the environment
‘In the course of time I had growing doubts about my studies. The programme focused mainly on cleaning the polluted environment and not on avoiding pollution in the first place. The Master that I’m following now is exactly what I want. Sustainable Energy Systems Management is all about making a positive impact. The programme focuses on clean renewable energy sources like wind, sun and ocean. You basically create energy without making a negative impact on the environment. It’s not a technical programme in itself, we have to cooperate with technicians. The master is mainly practical, focusing on how to make the energy transition, how to involve society, how to set up renewable energy business, how to integrate different technologies and how to change human behavior. I will stay here until next September. After that I will continue in another country. I don’t know where yet. The master’s degree I’ll get will be issued by Hanze University of Applied Sciences.
‘Last September we had an amazing field trip to the island of Terschelling that was organised by the Springtide Academy. Prominent scientists and business people gave interesting and inspiring lectures about themes such as sustainability and global warning. What I liked a lot where the discussions with students from sixteen nationalities that the lectures sparked off. It’s so interesting the hear the points of view of Europeans, Asians and Africans.
I hope I can implement what I learn in my native country after some years abroad
‘In Colombia renewable energy is still small. I want to learn more. I would very much like to get a job in Europe where there is a lot of expertise about renewable energy and the energy transition in the professional field. I hope I can implement what I learn in my native country after some years abroad.
‘I’m very grateful to Hanze University and the Dutch government for the scholarship I get. It covers about half the tuition fee. I have decided I will act as an ambassador for Hanze for students in Colombia who need information about studying here.’
Just like eight other present Hanze master students, Fernando applied successfully for a Holland Scholarship that is provided by the Dutch Ministry of Education. The scholarship is meant for students from outside of the European Economic Area who follow their studies in one of the affiliated universities (of which Hanze University is one).
For this and other scholarships international students can apply for, please turn to www.studyinholland.nl.