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Mark Costa Reflects on Travel Course to Cabo Verde

Mark Costa, ’24, is third generation Cape Verdean and has never had occasion to visit the island nation.

Mark Costa, ’24, is third generation Cape Verdean and has never had occasion to visit the island nation. So, it is not surprising that in January 2024, when Dr. Hayes-Bohanan led a travel course to Cabo Verde, he seized the opportunity to join. It was not only a chance to acquaint himself with the land of his heritage, but also to learn more about environmental geography and sustainability as Hayes-Bohanan employed coffee growing as one way to learn about the environment.

When asked his biggest takeaway from his experience, Mark said, “Fogo is such a small island, and the environment varies – the soil, the weather, the vegetation, everything. One of the key factors driven home to us was how many circumstances must go right for coffee to grow there in the first place. If any one of these factors were to change even a little bit, the impact on coffee would be disastrous.”

Mark’s first experience upon landing in Cabo Verde was being whisked to the Cabo Verdean Parliament in the capital city of Praia. Members of Parliament talk with the students about climate change and its impact. “This was very informative and a huge opportunity for us. Parliamentarians took the time to talk with us, ask questions,” he said, sharing key things about Cabo Verde.

When asked to describe the travel course, he said, “I would describe it as one of the most informative trips I’ve ever been on. It opened my eyes in a lot of ways as to how I, as a geography major, must think spatially. With the scale of the island, everything changes.” With those changes comes a shift in perspective and a need for creative solutions to existing challenges. The land mass is small; resources, limited; weather unpredictable. All these factors, he said, must be taken into consideration.

As a third-generation Cape Verdean who has heard stories about the islands all his life, Mark found his visit to Cabo Verde enlightening. “Although I’d never been to Cape Verde, there were aspects of the trip that felt familiar to me,” he said, clearly appreciative of all he saw and learned.

A 2024 graduate, Mark Costa is beginning his professional journey and is looking into land surveying as a strong career option.

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