Wednesday June 21, 2017

Faculty Profile: P Kelly Williams

For 12 years now, biology professor P Kelly Williams has been traveling to Ecuador with UD students as part of the University's BreakOut trips, domestic or international cultural immersions where participants help the community through service.

“It’s remarkable to watch young folks see the world with a different set of eyes,” Williams said. “I want students to understand what it’s like to be a minority, to feel it.”

Williams has been at UD since 1973 but started participating in UD’s BreakOut to Ecuador in 2004. That year Williams took a sabbatical, traveling all over the U.S. looking for internship opportunities for his undergrads.

“My wife and I visited a friend at the University of Denver and joined him and his class on a trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos,” Williams said. “When I returned to UD, I talked to the director of the Center for Social Concern and said I’d love to go on the upcoming BreakOut to Ecuador if they needed any help.”

Williams got approval from the director and his wife — “Very important that she was okay with it,” he said — and began his travels with UD.

“We work with a Marianist brother there who is also a professional biologist,” Williams said. “We stay in the Marianist house where he lives and work at sites where he has done conservation before.”

While in Ecuador, the group learns about the local culture, history and climate. They see both city and rural life while volunteering, and experience the work needed to sustain a viable rainforest environment.

“It’s wonderful to watch them experience different places, interact with kids and do service projects,” Williams said. “It’s the experience of discovery, the excitement of discovery.”

- Courtney Mocklow ’17

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