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Carra Cheslin '11 is on an eco-mission.
The environmental studies major was one of 22 young adult delegates traveling to Mexico for the Nov. 29-Dec. 10 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to lobby for climate change solutions.
She took part in negotiations with SustainUS, a volunteer youth organization for sustainable development. Katherine Shabb, a Connecticut College junior currently studying abroad in Mexico, and Jessica LeClair, a 2008 Connecticut College graduate, also attended the convention.
"Our delegation is encouraging clean energy and focusing on reducing the reliance on fossil fuels," Cheslin said before leaving. "I am so excited to be representing New England youth at these negotiations. For me, this is really the opportunity of a lifetime."
At the UN convention, Cheslin, a native of Newton, Mass., worked with environmentally-motivated youth from more than 75 countries to press international leaders for fair and equitable solutions to global climate problems. She attended meetings with climate change negotiators, wrote and presented environmental policy statements, carried out direct actions to advocate for the youth position on pertinent issues and connected with other young activists to encourage collaborative work.
"I'm surprised by how much influence my delegation is actually going to be able to have," said Cheslin, who prepared for the convention with training sessions and weekly conference calls.
Cheslin sees her participation at the convention as more than just a personal learning experience. "I'm looking at the UN climate change negotiations as an opportunity to bring international environmental issues back to the community level, so even more people can feel connected and motivated to take action," she said.
Cheslin's passion for the environment inspires her academic interests and her extracurricular activities. She is a member of the College's Environmental Leaders Coalition, a scholar with the College's Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and the founder of the College's chapter of Forest Justice, a student organization dedicated to creating awareness about the issues of deforestation. She has also served as the College's Recyclemania student organizer for three years.
As a junior, Cheslin studied abroad in Brazil, where she got a first-hand look at the impact of deforestation, and she recently completed a funded internship through the College's career center with Rainforest Action Network, a San Francisco-based organization that specializes in corporate campaigns.
Cheslin has designed her senior integrative project, a requirement for the Holleran Center's Program in Community Action, around her experience at the UN Framework Convention. She is working with philosophy professor Derek Turner to examine international debates related to adaptation policy - the process of identifying and funding climate change response and prevention projects - and to analyze international youth coalition-building efforts at the convention.
"This project will encourage me to learn more about one of the most forefront issues in international climate change negotiating and allow me to consider ways to improve upon current youth mobilization strategies around climate change," she said.