The Mirador

This Spring Break 2016, AUHSD students had the opportunity to travel to Panama or Ecuador with the Global Student Embassy (GSE) to assist in reforestation, build local gardens, and become educated in ecological awareness.

The two separate groups that headed to Panama and Ecuador each consisted of students of all grade levels from Miramonte, Campolindo, Acalanes, and Las Lomas High School, as well as two teacher chaperones. Miramonte teachers Jessica Moore (chemistry) and Katie Watson (math) accompanied the Ecuador trip, while Campolindo teachers Jane Kelson (science) and Roxanna Jackman (science) joined the Panama trip. Although the community service projects differed slightly between Panama and Ecuador, both were aimed towards the goal of addressing climate change, sustainable food availability and ecological degradation. In Panama, students worked in rural community gardens and at local schools. Students took part in planting seeds, excavating ditches for water lines, and double-digging four-foot deep trenches. In Ecuador, on the other hand, students helped reforest various areas and reservations around the country, planting a total of 409 trees. Reforestation is vital in Ecuador in order to hold the soil in place during the wet season, in which there are many storms and floods which sweep it away.

Working in such close proximity with fellow students required teamwork, which waged close bonds between students who hadn’t met prior to the trip. Miramonte senior Julia Alfonso, a member of the Ecuador group, said, “It was amazing to get out and plant trees while also bonding with really great people and sharing laughs and smiles.”

Both Panama and Ecuador groups had many opportunities to put their Spanish-speaking skills to the test and interact with the locals, many of which spoke little or no English. Students challenged themselves and many successfully overcame the language barrier, despite some not having taken a spanish class. Campolindo junior and Panama group member Justine Bon said, “It was really fun getting to practice my Spanish and seeing the culture there, as it is so different from our own.”

Although the Lamorinda students spent only a single week outside the country, they experienced much of the culture of their given country. Trying new foods, seeing the diverse wildlife, and interacting with local adults and children alike exposed the students to many aspects of Central and South American life. “These trips really give me perspective on other diverse environments around the world,” said Miramonte junior and Panama group member Morgan Haky. “It amazes me how much simple things such as growing your own food are taken for granted here in the United States.”

One of the Global Student Embassy’s visions is to “create environmentally conscious student leaders, skilled at taking action, and address local and global problems”. By essentially throwing students, who generally come from a privileged background, into a third-world country for just a week, the GSE trips almost always accomplish the goal of sending students home with newfound inspiration, awareness and experience. Bon said, “GSE has taught me to enjoy my surroundings and to try new things and it has opened my eyes to new culture. I want to help out around school and do my part to make an impact on the world.”

[caption id="attachment_594387" align="alignnone" width="429"]FullSizeRender-2 Photo: Roxanna Jackman[/caption]




GSE Hosts Student Trips to Ecuador and Panama, Staff Writer

Miramonte High School's Newspaper
GSE Hosts Student Trips to Ecuador and Panama