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Class Notes: A passion for people overseas

International study leads to graduate student’s life mission

Emily Pozo traveled to the Galapagos Islands to study. She stayed to become a change agent.

Pozo planned a healthcare career while a nursing student in Wisconsin. She completed graduate work in Spanish at Illinois State, where she taught the language and recruited for international education.

She relocated to Galapagos to teach and married a native, Mauricio. Pozo found the land Charles Darwin studied while forming his theory of evolution was in ruins, with 36,000 people living in subpar conditions. Schools and hospitals were unequipped, in part because the vast majority of conservation efforts are aimed at preservation of the islands. She changed that by founding the Galapagos ICE Organization (Immerse-Connect-Evolve), which focuses on citizens.

“Galapagos ICE aims to improve the quality of healthcare and education in the Galapagos Islands,” Pozo said during a campus discussion with ISU students last fall. “Our conservation is dealing with the people. We are the only nonprofit organization in the Galapagos Islands that does.”

Drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, and teen pregnancy are all prevalent issues. Drinking water has to be boiled for 20 minutes to make it safe, and newspaper is used in homes for insulation. First aid in a hospital might mean pouring alcohol from a juice bottle. Youth have too much time on their hands.

“The biggest problem is kids don’t learn about where they live. It’s not a part of the curriculum,” she said. “The Galapagos Islands were put at risk the day humans set foot on the islands. Now that we have that footprint there, we have to figure out what to do.”