Hideyoshi Akai ’19

Inspired by his Enivronmental Studies courses at Bowdoin and his interest in environmental sustainability, Hideyoshi “Hide” Akai ’19 traveled to Ecuador to intern for the Runa Foundation, a non-profit that invests in guayusa tea plant production and other programs that bring economic value to tropical forests and their people.

“Although I initially applied for the ‘Forest Conservation Management’ [program], I was ultimately assigned to ‘Community Eco-Tourism.’ Without any background in eco-tourism and traveling to South America for the first time, I felt unprepared and lacked confidence.” However, Hide quickly adapted and learned about a new field. Hide worked with the indigenous Kichwa people of three different communities, using his Spanish knowledge to educate members on the meaning of eco-tourism and help create structured programs to offer eco-tourists. Hide also helped create marketing campaigns for the communities, creating a Facebook page and designing a brochure advertising their newly established eco-tourism programs.

“I came to Tena intending to help the Kichwa fully overcome their obstacles, but I soon learned that eight weeks was not enough time to make a significant change. My new goal is to return in the future to further support their economic endeavors.” Hide’s time with the Runa Foundation also developed his commitment to the Common Good: “Before my internship, I had pondered what it means to be a global citizen….I believe that a global citizen is one who truly looks to understand the perspectives of all sides and formulate a fair solution that benefits everyone.” Thanks to his internship, Hide will bring those skills back to Bowdoin and beyond.