Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ian Thompson - Environmental Educator in Honduras

Working at the Regional Centre for Environmental Documentation and Interpretation (CREDIA) in La Ceiba Honduras is very different from working at the Falls Brook Centre. Instead of waking up every morning to a fresh, crisp morning for farmwork amidst a swarm of hungry blackflies I wake up much earlier with the heat of the day already spilling treacle-like through my window. I then set off for the CREDIA office where I do the majority of my work on translating documents, helping with attracting envrionmental and scientific tourism, or writing proposals for projects. So far I have worked on designing a greenhouse made out of plastic water bottles and a strategy for getting more young volunteers involved here at CREDIA. There have also been opportunities to meet NGOs from all over Latin America at international conferences hosted by CREDIA. It is very interesting to see the various perspectives on environmental issues and how different places choose to address these issues.

I also help with tours of the botanical gardens for school kids who come for a visit where they can learn more about the natural world that many city dwellers never see. Creating these links between people and their environment is very rewarding. Also, on a few occasions I have had the opportunity to help with puppet shows about protecting the wetlands. These have been performed in smaller communities for kids and we've been overwhelmed by the positive reactions we've received. One group even started their own environmental puppet team right after we left and have already begun producing shows!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Waheema Asghar - Biodiversity Restoration Facilitator in Costa Rica

Turrialba is treating me very, very kindly.  Where to begin?  Ive written down a few headings that I think have been the most important for me.  Here goes…

Location: Turrialba
Turrialba is a wonderful small all around Tico town.  Ive met some foreign tour guides and they like to call Turrialba their home.  Its peaceful, friendly, kind, gentle and is surrounded by mountains and the view of Turrialba volcano that shows off its white plume of smoke daily.  Its an hours drive to San Jose, and people head down to the capital over weekends very easily and cheaply.  Its 2.5 hours away to the closest beach on the Pacific coast.  Theres an ancient ruin nearby, Guyabo national park that many tourists don’t know about.      

Weather: Perfect
At first I was wishing I were closer to the shore, but the weather is absolutely perfect here.  Its more rainy and humid closer to the shore.  The weather in Turrialba is mosty sunny and warm around 25C-27C.  Its supposedly monsoon season but there hasn’t been any  inconveniences for me.  I would equate it to Canadas normal rainy days.  Except here, during the afternoon you may have some days with heavy rain that lasts 10 minutes and then the clouds soon flutter away.  The rains are great, cools everything off, and are fun to watch.  The mist they create between the mountains are spectacular, worth taking shots of.

Work in CATIE is wonderful, I most enjoy seeing the diversity of work that goes on around me.  That’s the advantage of working within a university.  There are students who are doing their phds and conversations with them are intriguing.  Then there are those working in Climate Change, The Bosques Program, seed banks, research and so many other neat departments.  I have been working with Felicia Granados who is consultant for CATIE who is helping CATIE receive Blue Flag distinction which is a nationally recognized program. 

This internship so far has been largely a learning experience.  I have learned a lot already in my twenty two days about the local culture, customs, ways of work and lifestyle.  Establishing relationships is very, very key and was something that was mentioned to me by Felicia early on.  To work with others, earning and maintaining trust first is more important that tackling anything else.  This is what I have been working on.  I will be heading out to the farms on my own and meeting the worker (98% of which only speak in Spanish) and become a familiar and trusted face by the workers.  To receive the Blue Flag distinction, the workers need to diligently enter in data about daily water use, diesel/gas use, electricity etc.  Because this data is of no use to the workers in their duties (and is added work), it often gets neglected making it difficult to prove the environmental initiatives that the farms are in fact taking.  Being a face for the program allows the workers to be conscientious of what needs to be done, and be done regularly.  Though being present on a farm does not seem like much work, it is very important in maintaining the bridge and motivating the team to continue with their good work in helping with record keeping.  Slowly it will become standard protocol, but the program is new and so is the additional record keeping.  Beyond that, I manipulate, extract the data received and take whats needed to input into the final report to the Blue Flag program.  I enjoy that my work involves being on the farm (which is beautiful), botanical garden (which is breathtaking) and indoor work, it’s the perfect balance.