Trinity in Trinidad Program Offers Unique Internships for Study Away Students

Engineering Majors Gain Hands-On Experience While Helping to Restore National Monument

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 16, 2018—Two Trinity College engineering majors spent their spring semester on the island of Trinidad, working alongside engineers on restoring the Red House, a national monument. The unique engineering internship was made possible through the college’s longstanding Trinity in Trinidad partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI).

​Trinity engineering majors Stacy Lam ’19 (left) and Yesenia Garcia Balbuena ’19 at their Trinidad work site, The Red House.
The Red House is the seat of parliament in the two-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Although the original Red House was constructed in 1844, the current structure was built after a fire destroyed the first building in 1903.

Trinity students Stacy Lam ’19 and Yesenia Garcia Balbuena ’19 worked with engineers at Lezama Electrical Services, Ltd., learning how to read electrical floor plans and industrial-sized wiring circuit diagrams while helping to restore the Red House. “We were exposed to new ideas and concepts,” Lam said. “The project tends to focus on industrial-sized electronics and more practical examples, as opposed to our classes at Trinity, which focus on microelectronics and a lot of theory.”

Although the Red House project is set to be completed in November 2018, future interns will work on other projects with Lezama. “The Red House is Trinidad’s seat of parliament; it’s like they’re working on the White House,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Donna-Dale Marcano, who is a faculty adviser to Trinity students studying in Trinidad. “It’s such a privilege for two young women from another country to take part in a project in such a male-dominated field.”

Lam and Garcia Balbuena were the only two students working on the site. “As women engineering interns at a construction site, it was an interesting experience,” Garcia Balbuena said. “You have to make everyone remember your name and respect you from the start as a dedicated, intellectual, and empowered woman.”

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with UWI, with many Trinity engineering students studying at the Trinity in Trinidad program over the years,” said Professor of Engineering and Engineering Department Chair John Mertens. “Engineering faculty at UWI have done an excellent job helping place our students in internships and treating them like any other UWI student.”

The opportunity to work on the Red House helped Trinity and its students to strengthen the college’s unique and long-lasting relationship with Trinidad. Jennifer Summerhays, the director of Trinity’s Office of Study Away, said, “I feel that reciprocity is very important in internships and study abroad in general. We shouldn’t send students away to just consume an experience. The students should co-create an experience with local residents and the cities.”

Trinity in Trinidad is a “hybrid program” in which students take both courses taught by Trinity faculty based on-site and enroll directly in courses at the University of the West Indies (UWI), where they study alongside local students. Roannta Dalrymple, the on-site director of Trinity in Trinidad, said that the program offers a wide range of courses and internship opportunities in which the students work closely with local professionals and community leaders. “From a cultural perspective, Trinidad is multi-dimensional and multi-ethnic, with an events-based society,” Dalrymple said. “Many cultural events and celebrations happen throughout the year.”

Trinity in Trinidad, now in its 25th year, offers excursions throughout the semester to expose students to different cultures within the Caribbean. The newest addition to the list of excursions is a week-long, immersive homestay experience in Cuba. “Since the students were studying in an English-speaking location, we wanted to give them a comparative experience in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean,” Summerhays said. “The similarities and differences between Cuba and Trinidad helps to show them the differences between the two cultures and help them see the different realities and perspectives within the Caribbean.”

For more information on Trinity in Trinidad, click here.

Written by Lucy Peng ’18