Foto Friday: Green Spaces and Sustainability

As an environmental management Peace Corps Volunteer, my three work goals have to do with Environmental Education, Natural Resource Management, and Solid Waste Management. While most of my work has been centered in the Municipality with trash management, this year I branched out and begun working in the largest school in Caraz, I.E. Micelino Sandoval Torres.

Over the past few months, I have been working with the Environmental Committee of teachers to elaborate an integrated environmental plan to implement in the school for this year. The plan has various activities ranging from presentations about the environment, improving the school’s trash management system, and teaching the kids about proper personal hygiene. However, another important component of the plan is the creation of more green areas and spaces within the school. After lots of planning in the elaboration of the plan, 2 weeks ago we finally took our first steps to achieve the goal of making the school greener.

At the beginning of June, the school Director, a few teachers of the Environmental committee, and myself walked around the grounds of the school to identify all of the free spaces which currently lacked greenery and maintenance. In total, we identified 21 spaces within the school, 21 spaces which were photographed and then marked on a map to be distributed to the different teachers. Below you can see one of the larger areas available within the school; as you can see, there is a lot that can be done in the space.

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I wonder what this will look like in a few weeks/months.

Last week, the Environmental Committee began distributing the map with corresponding photos among the different elementary and high school teachers so that each teacher can claim a space for their students. The idea is that one (or a few) class(es) will be responsable for each area within the school, using the spaces to plant grass, trees, flowers, or even to create a garden to produce some vegetables for the school breakfast system known as Qaliwarma.

The hope is that in the following weeks, the teachers and students will begin formulating and implementing their plans, and that by the end of the school year in December, the school with have a much greener and healthier look. Hopefully in a few months I will be able to post some photos of the before & after shots of the school.

While elaborating the environmental plan with the teachers took a while, it was worthwhile since the projects and activities implemented won’t be of my own design, but rather of the teachers. Yes, I will be helping with the activities, and yes, I may have helped with some of the organization of the environmental plan, but at the end of the day, the plan was made by the teachers and will be implemented by them. As Peace Corps Volunteers we are here to develop capacities and work sustainably, and while this is the longer and less traveled road in development, for me it seems worth it despite the challenges.

Until next time,

MGB

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Foto Friday: On the Radio

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, a lot of our work involves repetition. We give a presentation about how to separate trash, and then have to give another one, and then bug people multiple times until some of them finally adapt the practice, if only for a short while.

However, you can’t just give the same presentation over and over again, because as we all know, that would be boring. You have to know your audience, tailor your words to impact them; elementary school kids can’t be taught the same as parents in a rural community. But more importantly, you need to be creative, think of different ways in which you can spread your messages.

Here in Caraz, we are fortunate to have several different forms of public communication, each of which I have slowly but surely been taking advantage of in order to share environmental messages with the wider community. Firstly, we have a Municipal TV station that shows movies, documentaries, and footage of the different events and activities that the Municipality puts together. Recently, thanks to a little help, they have begun showing Planet Earth in Spanish so that the community of Caraz can see a bit more of the world and learn more about nature. In addition to the T.V. channel, we also have several radio stations, and it is the radio that I am highlighting today with my Foto Friday post.

I have had the fortune to talk with my community counterparts on 3 of the radio stations here in Caraz, spreading different environmental messages. Below, is a photo of me and two workers from the UGEL-Huaylas (Local Unit of Educational Management) on the UGEL’s weekly radio show. They take advantage of the space each week to talk about different educational initiatives and highlight different schools in the province.

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That day, I had the fortune to attend and talk about Climate Change, the start of the school year, and give a shout out to all of the schools that had committed to working on environmental initiatives in their schools for this year. Since then, I have been able to talk on this show, and a few others about different environmental topics such as recycling, trash management, environmental contamination, and water pollution.

When I joined the Peace Corps, I never once imagined that I would be talking on radio shows to promote environmental awareness, but I must say, it is quite fun. I’m hoping to work with my counterparts to take advantage of the TV and Radio more in the future, because they are great mediums for promoting environmental awareness and maybe even teach some new skills.

Until next time,

MGB