Ina Brechenmacher is fascinated by life away from the bright city lights. “I’m not a country bumpkin,” the 24-year-old says. But she likes the idea of channeling her academic insights into the town of her birth. One of the first subjects she covered in her master's degree in American Studies was the American dream of small town life. She’s also enrolled on a postgraduate course in environmental sciences at the Rachel Carson Center, where, for her final project, she’s developing a themed guided tour exploring the environmental history of her own home town. “People who live in villages still think I’m a city girl,” Ina says. To change this, she’s started to get involved in the local community.
Last year, for example, a mineral water company wanted to extract more groundwater from the region. “For the first time, I realized how much I’d learned in my environmental history studies,” Ina reports. At long last she was able to exit her academic bubble and engage in real research to address a real problem. Local protests were successful. “It felt amazing to be able to do something for my home region,” she reminisces.