ISWA-SWIS Winter School 2020 – The Student's Experience

13-24 January 2020 saw the 5th edition of the ISWA-SWIS Winter School take place at the University of Arlington, Texas with a record number of participants. Each year the school offers a number of full scholarships through an essay competition.


One of the recipients of the 2020 Scholarship was Siddartha Valle from University of Batangas, Philippines. Siddartha has written a blog about her experiences at the winter school.

3 Feb 2020 -

I had the privilege to participate in this year’s Winter School on Solid Waste Management, a program jointly organized by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and the Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability (SWIS) of the University of Texas at Arlington.


The objective of the ISWA-SWIS Winter School was to provide advanced knowledge in the field of waste management to an international audience of existing and emerging solid waste experts. For 2 weeks, participants had the opportunity to gain knowledge on the challenges of solid waste management, with a focus on developing economies, through a blend of in-class and hands on training. This year the winter school involved formal classroom lectures given by SW professionals and academicians, visits to landfills and MRF, and hands-on equipment operation.


As an academic of engineering from a developing country, there are plenty of concepts familiar to me in theory, but not in practice, as there has been little to no infrastructure for sustainable waste management that we can study and observe e.g. sanitary landfills or well-designed MRFs. So I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to learn from seasoned solid waste managers. It has truly been an enriching experience for me.


The winter school was also organized in coordination with the following:

  • City of Irving Landfill, Texas
  • City of Garland, Texas
  • City of Grand Prairie, Texas
  • Republic Services, Fort Worth, Texas

My participation to the Winter School was made possible through a scholarship grant from ISWA-SWIS. I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to participate in the program.

A million thanks to:

  • Our mentors, James Law, Brenda Haney and Vance Kemler, who patiently responded to our questions, and eagerly engaged in discussions;
  • The members of SWIS group, who had to herd us for 2 weeks from morning til night (especially Prabesh, we miss your daily emails);
  • My SWIS co-ambassadors, who have shared their experiences in their countries’ SWM, as well as their culture;
  • My groupmates: the brilliant Amani, Asif who we bossed around, Dia, Marcelo, and our dear Boss Fanja, with the heartiest laugh;
  • My roommate Diana, I couldn’t ask for a better Colombian sister;
  • And of course, the leader of the pack, Dr. Sahadat Hossain. I dearly hope you never lose steam as your earnestness is contagious and inspiring.

As the professor eloquently said, may we all be MAD.



Another recipient of the scholarship was Paola Nathali Meza Ramos. Orginally from Peru, Paola is an MA Student the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.


ISWA-SWIS offered me the opportunity to participate in the winter school held at the University of Texas at Arlington. The participants were made up of professionals in waste management from 26 different countries. The diversity of the participants and the common interest in waste management made us connect immediately. Different realities with a common problem, inadequate waste management.


The program included theoretical classes by leading professionals, experts in the area. As well as group work in specific cases to land the concepts learned throughout the classes.


My group was formed by Abraham from the United Kingdom, Daniana from Colombia, Daniel from the United Kingdom, Eshetu from Ethiopia, Maria from Bangladesh, Mohammed from India, Nasser from Oman, me from Peru and our group leader Mumtahina from Bangladesh. We were in charge of waste management for the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.


The program also included technical visits to various waste management facilities including City of Irving Landfill, City of Grand Prairie Landfill, City of Garland Landfill, City of Fort Worth-Republic Service.


The program concluded with the presentation of waste management projects for the cities assigned per group and the certificate giving from Dr. Sahadat Hossain and Mr. Vance Kemler in the representation of SWIS, and Mr. Law James in the representation of ISWA.


Beyond the professional and academic learning, I received, I must highlight the work of the organizers to help us form bonds of friendship. I consider it an important factor to stay in touch for a longer time and collaborate more easily on future projects that help improve the waste management system around the world.


I finished the two weeks of winter school with optimism for the innovative projects that are being carried out. I also end up with new friends who feel the same passion for waste management and understand the importance it has in an increasingly populated society. My "pack of wolves" as Dr. Hossain would say.


I am very grateful to have been chosen to participate in the Winter School, a unique experience that I definitely recommend to all those interested in waste management.

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