Harrison Gerson: “One of the main reasons to come to Chile was that there’s a Global Center here”

A junior at Columbia College, he is interning in Chile thanks to contacts established by the Santiago Center.

July 21, 2023

Harrison Gerson, a rising junior at Columbia College, is currently spending time in Chile as a second-year Laidlaw Scholar. He will stay in the country for two months, during which he will first intern in the capital city of Santiago, to then head south to Puerto Natales, located in Patagonia.  

The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program aims to develop undergraduate students as active global citizens and future leaders. The program includes a six-week summer research project and leadership development training in the first year. In the second year, the scholars participate in a leadership-in-action program, applying their knowledge in new environments, which led Harrison to Chile. The Santiago Center was instrumental in identifying the opportunities for Harrison to develop the program in Chile and in putting him in contact with both places.

As a first-year scholar, Harrison worked in the development of an online interactive map of environmental activities in New York, in order to promote sustainable and regenerative ecotourism. Now, as a second summer scholar, he is interning at the Federation of Tourism Enterprises of Chile (FEDETUR). His focus is on researching the current state of carbon counting and emissions reduction in Chilean tourism, with the aim of creating a guide to help tourism businesses manage their carbon emissions and environmental impact more effectively.

After six weeks in Santiago, he will head to Puerto Natales, and then to the world-renowned Torres del Paine National Park. There, he will stay at Patagonia Camp, a luxury eco-lodge, where he will contribute to develop a sustainability plan. 

Before arriving in Chile, Harrison spent time at the Paris Center in June, where he worked on identifying sustainability plans for the historic Reid Hall. His work in Paris has inspired him to expand similar initiatives to the network of Columbia Global Centers. Harrison is a CGC enthusiast, having visited four centers, including Amman and Nairobi as part of the Kraft Global Fellows Program organized by the Office of the University Chaplain.


When asked about his choice to intern in Chile, Harrison mentioned the presence of a Global Center as a key factor. “One of the main reasons to come to Chile was that there’s a Global Center here,” he acknowledged, adding that it provided him with a sense of security, support and opportunity. "I am very happy to have chosen Santiago as my launchpad with Laidlaw and look forward to the coming weeks. I truly appreciate your guidance and support!," he closed.