Kayla Adolph ’20 explores Tahiti as part of her OWU Connection experience studying the long-term impact of nuclear testing in French Polynesia. (Photo courtesy of Kayla Adolph)

‘Paradise Gone Nuclear’

OWU Student Studies Effects of Nuclear Testing in French Polynesia

By Kirsten Whitford ’19

Name: Kayla Adolph ’20

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

Majors: Geography and Politics and Government

Minor: French

Experience: Theory-to-Practice Grant, “Paradise Gone Nuclear: The Long-Term Effects of Nuclear Testing”

Adolph traveled to French Polynesia for a week in May to conduct research at the Service du Patrimoine Archivistique et Audiovisuel and interview experts. She studied the sociopolitical and environmental groups that are advocating for support for people with health issues related to nuclear testing in the region.

She prepared her OWU Connection grant application with assistance from John Krygier, Ph.D., professor of geology and geography and director of environmental studies, and intends her research to become part of her senior honors project in geography.

Lessons learned

“I chose to do a Theory-to-Practice Grant because it allowed me to explore how my different interests could connect and influence each other. In my case, I could see the various geographic attributes of Polynesia that made the French decide to conduct nuclear tests there. However, that didn’t go without political consequence that continues to influence life on the islands today.

“I learned a lot from this experience, before I even got on the plane. This was my first time traveling by myself and my first time traveling internationally, so I picked up a few navigation skills. After landing, I learned quite a bit in the practice of language, organizing, and tradition.

This was the first experience that I had that really allowed me to practice my French language skills. People who I interviewed were involved in long-standing organizations that they created themselves. I spoke to dedicated people who were very passionate about educating and supporting each other.

Trip highlights

“My favorite experience on the trip had to be hiking in Tahiti. The habitat is so beautiful and different from what I am used to -- it really gave me an understanding as to why people would fight so hard to protect it.”

Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because of strong financial aid, travel opportunities, and the unique housing opportunity of the SLUs (small living units).

My plans after graduation

“Ultimately, I would like to attend law school, but may end up taking a gap year for research.”