Sustainable Study Abroad Grants 2017-18

Marissa Donohue
Middlebury School in Cameroon

"Conservation Conversations: Understanding Environments in Urban and Rural Cameroon"

How does understanding of environmental conservation in an urban space differ from a rural
space? What modes of communicating environmental issues are shared? From the city of
Yaoundé to a rural “EcoVillage” in Bafut, I hope to map awareness and value for environmental
issues such as water availability, climate change, and the health and wellbeing of humans and
non-humans alike. My research will create an ethnography of observed conversations about the
environment, contrasting the taxi-ride, street-side, and household dialogue of urban Yaoundé
with the dialogue located in preservation sites such as Mount Cameroon. I am especially
interested in areas of overlap, such as urban green spaces. I plan to revive or establish a
community garden in Yaoundé as a lasting resource for community members, and I will mobilize
my research to write up discussion questions and environmentally-themed conversation prompts
based on my honest observations from listening to conversations among urban and rural
Cameroonians. This discussion guide will remain with the garden site as a tool to continue
thinking about ways to about environmental concerns and community-responsive conservation.

Anna Durning
Middlebury School in Chile

"Cuidamos Nuestro Medio Ambiente: Lombricultura y Material Reciclado"

Joyita del Pacífico is a pre-school located in the urban center of Valparaíso, Chile and committed
to increasing environmental education programming in their classrooms. These efforts have
included starting a small garden on their patio and buying wood or ceramic toys instead of plástic
ones. With this grant, they are able to install a vermicomposting system that serves not just the
school but is open to community members as well. In my work at the school, I will lead a series
of activities with the students to leam about the importance of limiting the production of garbage
and how vermicomposting works. Through storytelling, acting, singing songs, and actually
participating in the daily tasks of maintaining a compost bin, they can gain an appreciation for
the work that they are doing. By implementing this system, the school will not only lower its
waste production but will demónstrate altemative methods to dispose of waste and créate
fertilizer to sustain their growing garden.

Emily French

Middlebury School in Chile

"Mapping Valdivia’s Parque Urbano El Bosque: Environmental Education and Stewardship"

Located just three miles from the center of Valdivia, Chile Parque Urbano El Bosque is a beautifully preserved example of the expansive Valdivian Temperate Rainforest which lies beyond the city’s limits. In this way, El Bosque makes hands-on environmental education not only possible but easily accessible for the city’s residents. Environmental education is particularly important in this region which is home to the second largest, of five remaining, temperate rainforests in the world. With a Sustainable Study Abroad Grant, I plan to design and install a new park map for El Bosque’s front entrance to help visitors better understand the park’s ecological diversity. Additionally, with the help of the park’s educational coordinator, I hope to design and print several handheld maps which will facilitate an engaging, self-guided park tour for the many school groups who visit El Bosque. Helping visitors understand and more importantly connect with what they are seeing is essential to promoting the park’s mission: moving toward a more environmentally conscious, sustainable Valdivia.

Samuel Graf
Middlebury School in Chile

"Conservation within Karukinka National Park"

The focus of my project revolves around Karukinka National Park, in the Tierra del Fuego region of southern Chile. There, I will work to identify geologically significant points within the park in the interest of maintaining their magnitude and beauty. I will also help to further other conservation projects within the park, such as the management and eradication of the invasive beaver, in part by utilizing QGIS. Lastly, I will also help to create and contribute to the idea of a Middlebury Atlas, online geographic information system that can contain and catalog work done by students who participate in larger-scale projects through the Global Partnerships for Sustainability (GPS) program. For this, my project is a collaborative effort, as I am building upon the previous work that others have done before me, and in turn leaving my own contribution that other students can develop and improve in the pursuit and progress of further conservation in Karukinka.

Michael Nunziante
Middlebury School in Chile

"Canto Comunitario"

The idea behind this project is to engage the children in a marginalized community in Santiago through musical instruments and creative expression as a means to process and discuss issues that they experience within their living environment. The central plaza in this community, a space originally designed for outdoor activities, exercise, games and music, has been stolen from the children by the numerous members of the community who occupy it to abuse drugs and alcohol. The goal of my workshop is to empower the children to physically and psychologically reclaim this space as an area in which they can exercise their rights to play, share and express themselves in a safe and healthy environment. We will work together to learn instruments and songwriting skills, discover how the kids’ favorite songs are constructed, and form a community band to encourage teamwork and the positive exchange of ideas. Ultimately, the children will develop a space to reflect on issues in their own community in an entertaining and creative way.

Dorothy Punderson
Middlebury School in Chile

"Native Species of Valdivia: Environmental Education Posters"

This semester I have been working with Parque Urbano el Bosque, a small park in Valdivia focused on environmental education. The park is part of a network of urban nature reserves that have preserved native Valdivian forest, wetland, and other ecosystems inside the city for the public to enjoy. At Parque Urbano el Bosque I helped design three posters that show flora, fauna and fungi in the nature reserves. The posters strengthen this network of physically separated reserves by highlighting the ecosystems they have in common, and are a resource for the public to learn more about the natural areas that surround them.