January Alumni of the Month: Chloe Maxmin, Gap Year Abroad
CIEE Alum Chloe Maxmin is making a big impact in the world of climate activism. Although she is only 22 years old, Chloe began her work as a climate activist more than ten years ago, when she took action against the development of the North Maine Woods at the age of 12. In high school, she founded her school’s Climate Action Club and led campaigns to improve environmental issues in her local community, such as reusable bags and solar panels for schools.
Photo: Chloe Maxmin
Chloe wanted to study environmentalism in different parts of the world. After high school, she participated in the CIEE Gap Year Abroad program. Chloe spent the first half of her gap year in Bolivia and Peru, researching the concept of “Pachamama” – a more spiritual approach to caring for the planet. The second half of her gap year was spent in Shanghai; she chose the city because of its significance to environmental issues, including persistent pollution. In these two different parts of the world, she experienced firsthand the negative impact that climate change was already having on the lives of those in the local communities. “I learned about how a community deals with significant environmental damage when the effects are facing you every day,” Chloe recalls. “I also learned about the tensions between a system and individual behavior change when confronting such major environmental changes.”
Chloe says that her experience in China with CIEE was one of the most difficult experiences of her life, but also the most rewarding – and that she came back to the United States with a new appreciation for other cultures.
Today, she is the co-founder of Divest Harvard, an organization that launched one of the most powerful movements in Harvard history. She is also the founder and president of First Here, Then Everywhere, an online network by and for young environmentalists. She’s received national and international recognition for her work: in 2013, she was named a Green Hero by Rolling Stone magazine, and she was a recipient of the Brower Youth Award (2013), as well as the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes (2010) and the Samantha Smith Award (2011).
Chloe’s post-graduation plans include continuing to work on political organizing around climate and environmental issues. She says that with important upcoming events – such as the Paris Climate Talks in 2015 and the US Presidential Election in 2016 – climate activism is more important now than ever.