First time to tropical Panama, spanning across 20 days at the end of the year.
The first portion was a week-long volunteer trip with fellow undergraduate students from my university to embark on an environmental service project in an indigenous community of the Guna Yala province through the environmental program of Global Brigades.
Here is a report written by my friends and I after the volunteer trip:
Earth Train partners with Global Business Brigades and Global Environmental Brigades to create and support projects in the community surrounding our Centro Mamoní campus. Earth Train and Global Brigades are also working together to create BISD – the Brigades Institute for Sustainable Development – which, as a collaboration between the organizations, has developed a workshop program that addresses issues in development within sensitive economic and cultural contexts. The first of these workshops – Systems Thinking with David Stroh – was held with great sucess in December, 2009 at Centro Mamoní.
On December 27th, fourteen students from across the United States and Canada piled into 4-wheel-drive trucks and began a journey through degraded rainforest and cattle pastures to the entrance of the Mamoní Valley Preserve. They spent the next 5 days hiking with Panamanian naturalist Lider Sucre; studying systems thinking with David Stroh, a National Science Foundation Fellow at MIT and founding partner of Innovation Associates; and learning the intricacies of sustainable development with Earth Train Founder Nathan Gray.
Nearly all the students were members of Global Brigades, and many were even leaders of their own Global Brigade trips. They acted as consultants to Earth Train and the Mamoní Valley Preserve, using the systems thinking tools provided by David to explore Earth Train’s projects and the potential benefits and consequences that they carried. The workshop was rewarding for both students and faculty, and the last night – New Year’s Eve – was an appropriate trasition to end the workshop and begin 2010 with a new-found understanding and approach to complex problems.
A number of photos taken by yours truly were later featured in Earth Train’s programs publication (PDF).
Below are just a portion of photos from the week-long volunteer portion in Guna Yala, the land of the indigenous and automonous Guna people inhabiting the San Blas islands and the Caribbean mainland in east Panama.
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