Engaging the youth of Angoche
A few weeks ago, the P&S Project kicked off a new phase of collaboration with local students. Erin Freml, a Peace Corps Volunteer and Angoche biology teacher who has been eager to give her students a greater understanding of the local ecology, shares her thoughts about the first joint event:
The beach cleanup and discussion were great! Alex [another Angoche Peace Corps Volunteer] and I invited a number of different students from the public high school, private high school and the Youth Training Center. An impressive 35 students showed up for the event! We started off the morning at the office with an informational session and discussion where representatives from the Primeiras e Segundas project explained the project’s goals and objectives and discussed some key environmental/community issues in the area, such as sustainable farming techniques, environmentally friendly fishing practices, costal preservation through the planting of mangroves, protection of particularly threatened species, and the effect of trash and human waste on the soil and water.
I was impressed with the amount of questions the students had and their enthusiastic participation. From the discussion we had with them, it was obvious that they were starting to understand how protecting the soil, organisms, and bodies of water in the area directly influences the quality of life for Angoche residents. They were able to specifically identify a number of problems that plaugue the area (e.g. persistant trash dumping areas and coastline that has been cleared of mangroves for burning wood) and to question what should be done about it. Yay for information processing!
On the way from the office to the beach, I also eavesdropped on a rather lively discussion that the students in the back of the truck were having about forming some sort of student group for environmental issues. They were obviously pretty excited about what they were learning. When we arrived at the beach, everyone had a turn with the shovel to dig some trash holes. Then we filled them up with the trash from the surrounding area. It was nice being able to talk about the issues and then show them immediately how to take responsibility for them.
We had some snacks after all that hard work and a little reflection session. Job well done. Alex and I were very impressed by the students, the workers from Primeiras e Segundas, and how well the collaboration went. We are already in the process of planning our next event with Primeiras and Segundas in June. We will be taking 10 students on a trip to the islands to learn more about mangrove planting and the island ecosystems. I’m so pumped to go!