I wanted to do this program in Mérida to gain some work experience and see if a job in environmental science was right for me. I also wanted to go back to a place where I could speak Spanish every day.

After graduating from college this semester, I hope to get a job that has to do with the environment.

The Secretary of Sustainable Development is part of the Yucatán government and it is in charge of local flora and fauna conservation, as well as education of Yucatán citizens on the environment as well as climate change through various programs such as beach cleaning, planting trees, and more.

Its vision is "That Yucatán is a benchmark in the harmonization of economic development with the ecological balance of the State, in order to improve the quality of life of the population, under the principles of shared responsibility, honesty and transparency."

It also is in charge of monitoring air quality, both through high quality sensors meant for official reporting and many citizen level sensors for local air quality monitoring.

During my time at the Secretary of Sustainable Development, I analyzed PM2.5 data collected from a sensor at the University of Arts of Yucatán in Mérida. According to the data that was collected, the concentration of PM2.5 is below the daily maximum permitted but still above the annual average permitted.

During my time in Mérida, I had the opportunity to stay with doña Nenusa, her mom Angelita, and her daughter Paulina. Anna, a student from DePaul University also stayed with us. For me, this was one of the most important experiences during my time in Mérida as it allowed me to learn more about the culture, and it was an absolute pleasure to learn from these women.

Annija Westfall

January 2024