Engaging the community

January 30, 2017

Romy Kupfer brings an international perspective to sustainability at MacEwan

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Choosing to move 7,000 kilometres away from home was an easy decision for Romy Kupfer—after all, she’s been on the road since she was 16, participating in international student exchanges and internships. Past travels have taken her from India to South Africa to Southeast and Central Asia, but an opportunity to work in sustainability brought Romy to Canada. Hired on as an international student intern from Leipzig, Germany, Romy has been a project consultant in MacEwan University’s Office of Sustainability since November.

"I wanted to experience what sustainability means in a Canadian context, as well as what it means for a university," she says. “I'm learning something new every day."

“Here in Canada, I have the chance to experience sustainability in a very practical sense in a work environment,” she adds. “I get to apply my values and knowledge while learning what it means to implement sustainable practices in a multifaceted institution like MacEwan.”

Her experiences have taught her how important face-to-face engagement is for getting the word out about sustainability on campus. Through that engagement, Romy has made connections across the university, whether that be with the resident beekeeper, the folks at Campus Services, or students hoping to make a difference on campus. As a result, she’s managed to gain some insight on the variety of sustainability initiatives that take place at MacEwan.

While Romy has learned a lot at MacEwan, she brings a fresh perspective on sustainability to campus.

“I had done a lot of sustainability work as a student, but now I’m on the institutional side of it,” she says. “There are so many people here that have different interests and expectations when it comes to sustainability on campus, and my perspective as an international student has been helpful in trying to meet some of those needs.”

Gaining some insight on what sustainability means in a Canadian context is what drove Romy to Edmonton, so when she saw the online job posting for the Office of Sustainability, she applied right away.

"I've always been interested in stakeholder management and sustainability in a more international context, but also what it means for a public institution," says Romy, who recently received her Master’s in Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Management. “The stakeholder community is quite diverse here, and it’s really interesting to see how Canadians tackle sustainability issues.”

In just three months, Romy has taken on some of these issues herself, raising awareness for MacEwan’s sustainability initiatives and taking the lead on creating educational programming about fair trade goods.

She hopes to continuing making a difference at MacEwan before she heads back home in April.

“I want to support existing projects and raise awareness about sustainability at MacEwan,” she says. “It’s crucial that we build connections and inform people about the work we’re doing so we can share the sustainability love.”

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