Panama 2009

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:

The latter portion was a sustainable development workshop with Earth Train in their beautiful Mamoni Valley Preserve. As described on their site:

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.

IMG_6310 IMG_6318 IMG_6324 IMG_6344 IMG_6614 IMG_7226 IMG_7317 IMG_7324 IMG_8037 IMG_8065 IMG_8137 IMG_8155 IMG_8183 IMG_8246 IMG_8272 IMG_8460 IMG_8484 IMG_8494 IMG_8531 IMG_8549 IMG_8773 IMG_8776 IMG_8784 IMG_8787 panama09_day05_003 panama09_day05_005 panama09_day05_016 panama09_day05_019 panama09_day05_022 panama09_day05_037 panama09_day05_056 panama09_day05_058 panama09_day05_077 panama09_day05_115 panama09_day05_176 panama09_day05_206 panama09_day05_214 panama09_day05_219 panama09_day05_263 panama09_day05_266 panama09_day05_279 panama09_day05_289 panama09_day05_307 panama09_day07_019 panama09_day07_040

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