Emily, a 2019 South Pacific Verto Alum reached out to us with an idea to help raise funds to support the efforts in Australia. We were beyond thrilled to help get her idea out to the public. Below you’ll find her story and why this cause is so important to her. Please check out her store at TeePublic.com to buy one of her designs. 100% of the profits will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. You can also help by donating directly to the Australian Red Cross or to the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service.

My name is Emily Rosenberger and I am a sophomore in college. I decided to embark on my SOPAC (South Pacific) adventure with Verto Education for the first semester of my sophomore year. I knew it was not going to be a traditional college experience or a traditional study abroad experience; I just knew it would be an experience.

Emily's CohortAnd an experience it was…
We realized that we were the first group ever to travel with Verto Education to the South Pacific. While there were definitely challenges studying abroad in different countries with a random group of students and professors from all over the world, what we experienced on the trip was something I will never forget in my entire life.

The three countries that we visited on my semester abroad were Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. On this semester abroad, we did not just experience the “tourist” areas in each country, but we experienced the real culture of the area. My classes were Identity and Race, Cultural Anthropology, and Environmental Science. By the end of the semester, the classes we had and what we experienced through our travels connected hand in hand and I realized while abroad just how big yet small our world really is. The point of Verto Education is that we were fortunate to partake in “experiential learning” versus just sitting in a classroom. We had classes in remote villages in Fiji, in small cities of New Zealand, and Australia’s very own Daintree Rainforest. The point is our environment created our classroom and that created an unbelievable firsthand learning experience.

We were able to experience adventures throughout our time as well. Some of these included skydiving in Fiji, going black water rafting in New Zealand, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and visiting the epic Australian zoo. While Verto did a great job of combining class with adventure, the one aspect I really took away from my semester was that we need to love and protect our planet.

Sustainability tied into each class and everything we did. We were constantly connecting how the environment of one area affects the people living there, the food they eat, the homes where they live, their values, the economy, and everything else imaginable. I now have a more global vision, a universal eye.
The point is, climate change is real and we need to gain greater awareness as a world in order to curb the damage we have already caused and move forward in more environmentally positive ways in order to protect our precious planet earth. When I returned from my semester, I found myself paying close attention to what products I use, where I shop, how much I drive, the ridiculous number of plastic products being consumed, air and water pollution, etc.

fires in australia

This is the image I saw on Instagram, depicting the wildfires and the animals trying to break free and survive.

After I got home from my trip, I watched the news that Australia is on fire and that our planet is in fact BURNING, and in that moment, I just wanted to do anything I could to help. Traumatic news stories like this can be devastating and almost unbearable to watch unless we channel our sadness and despair into positive action. People my age spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram or Twitter or Facebook and a lot of what we see is not “real”. But the truth is, the wildfires and destruction and devastation in Australia right now is all very REAL.

As I am typing this, 17.9 million acres of land have burned in Australia (making it the country’s worst fire season on record), people have been forced out of their homes and at least 27 people have died, and an estimated 1 BILLION animals have been killed or been lost and displaced. Many species are on the brink of extinction due to this disaster alone. It is estimated that up to ⅓ of all koalas have been killed in the fires. And it doesn’t seem that the fires are going to stop anytime soon. So we really need to do what we can to help out.

kangaroo at the zoo

This is just one of the cute kangaroos we were able to spend time with at the zoo.

When I was in Australia, I was able to experience the joy of kangaroos and even pet kangaroos at the zoo. They were soft and fluffy and cute and it makes me really upset knowing that those innocent animals, people, and brave firefighters are getting hurt and killed in the wildfires.

I feel very connected to this humanitarian cause and crisis and I know we can all help. I sketched a few cute kangs and decided to put them on shirts. Please consider buying something to support this very worthwhile cause. ALL of the proceeds will be given to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Thanks so much for reading this and helping the kangs, the Australian people, the earth, all the other animals, everyone and everything.