Laura Avendano

I truly understand the meaning of addressing issues of environmental sanitation and water resources management with responsibility and good judgment in a country rich in resources but poor in management and leadership.

Latin America and the Caribbean
Colombia Latin America and the Caribbean

Laura Avendano Romero comes from Colombia, where she did her Bachelor's in Civil Engineering. For six years, she worked as a project engineer in a consulting company before she started her Master's at IHE Delft in Urban Water and Sanitation, with a specialization in Sanitary Engineering. Laura holds a Rotary International scholarship.

Some years ago, when she was completing an academic exchange in France, Laura wanted to apply to the Erasmus Mundus programme because she was interested in completing international master's studies. Looking for Master programme abroad, she noticed and received a lot of good references about IHE Delft and its impact in the water sector. That is when she decided that a Master's in Sanitary Engineering at IHE Delft would give her the technical background she needed to complement her professional experience. Besides, the idea of studying in an institute working in partnership with UNESCO was really exciting for her.

Where did her passion for water come from?

“Water has always been important in my life. Any question you might ask me, the answer will be related to water. Where do you want to live? By a lake. Where do you want to travel? To the beach. What do you like to do? I want to do water sports.

When I was a child, I lived in a rural area in my country, so I know the difficulties and limitations for people to access drinking water. Still, sometimes when you move to big cities, you forget those realities. Years later, when I was in high school, I traveled from the capital city where there is a continuous potable water supply, to a small town in the countryside, and I got terribly sick because I was drinking contaminated water. Drinking water from the tap is something no one does in those places, but I had already forgotten it.

We have a lot of water in Colombia, but we are not responsible enough to use it in a good manner. For instance, we have the Bogota River crossing the capital city, a river that is one of the most polluted in the world."

What surprised you the most about IHE Delft?

"One of my biggest surprise, when I arrived here, is that there are no Dutch people studying at IHE Delft. I know we all are coming from different countries, but I had the idea that some of my classmates were going to be Dutch. I also thought that the campus was bigger (laughing).

Once the courses started, I discovered how intensive the programme is. We need to learn a lot in a short time. Therefore, I really appreciate that IHE Delft includes workshops in the module structures, so we can have the lectures and then see the practical application of what we have learned."

What do you think about the city of Delft?

"Delft is a very cosy, well-organized, small city. The culture of cycling is amazing. Many people, even the elderly, ride a bike and cycle fast. The student accommodation is comfortable and with a lot of space if I compare it with other student accommodation where I have stayed."

When Laura finishes her studies, she wants to continue working in the Bogota River Environmental Restoration Project. Having been part of the design team of the Canoas Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bogota, one of the projects framed in the restoration programme, she says: "one day, we would like to see the Bogota river as a tourist attraction with plenty of recreational and cultural activities, once the Wastewater Treatment plant and ancillary infrastructure are built and well operated."

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