Sustainable Study Abroad Grant Recipients 2013-14

Erin Leddy
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
"Manos Verdes"

The organization Manos Verdes seeks to provide opportunities for hands-own exposure to the Chilean environment to underprivileged students through educational excursions.  This grant funded a trip to the “intertidal zone”, or the shallow part of the ocean that is affected most by the tides.  We went during a period of low tide to allow the students the ability to explore for themselves the incredible variety of living species that exist here.  During the activity, we discussed the adaptations necessary to surviving in such a challenging environment, the importance of conservation, and the ways in which each student could help to preserve Chilean ecosystems.  The hope is that these excursions will inspire in the students a love for the natural world and a curiosity to continue discovering more about it; it is through this type of early exposure that we believe we can create actual change.  Particularly in developing nations like Chile, impressing upon the next generation the importance of preserving the environment could help lead to the development of environmentally-friendly national infrastructure. Beyond all of that, it is a fun and exciting day for the kids—everyone got on the bus at the end of the day a little sandier and with huge smiles.  


Ezera Miller-Walfish
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
Manos Verdes Outdoor Education Field Trip

Manos Verdes is an environmental education project in Valparaíso, Chile that works to provide hands-on experience in the outdoors for students in underfunded public schools in the area. The project affords elementary and middle school students the opportunity to have direct contact with nature in the hope that it will foster within them a positive approach to the environment. Many of the students that participate in activities with Manos Verdes have never had the chance to experience nature directly and most of the schools lack the resources to provide such an opportunity. I, with logistical assistance from Southern Nature and funding from this grant, will be organizing and leading an interactive field trip to a woodland area outside of Valparaíso, Chile. The trip invites the students to become “nature detectives” as they discover the secrets of the woodland kingdom and learn through observation and analysis the life cycles of the native species and the interactions that occur during the changing of the seasons. I hope that this experience will not only teach the students about the natural world that surrounds them, but will also inspire them to preserve and treasure it.

Erica Van Sciver
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
“Manos Verdes/EXPLORA: Fostering Enriching Sustainability Experiences for Santiago’s Youth”

            Through a partnership between the organizations Manos Verdes and EXPLORA, my project brought 45 Santiago students to the coastal locale of Quintay. In keeping with Middlebury’s mission of promoting sustainability, the fundamental goal of this undertaking was to organize an excursion where students could not only learn more about the environment, but also about their own role in preserving delicate ecosystems. During the excursion, students participated in hands-on learning experiences that teach them about the particular marine ecosystems of Quintay, the challenges of environmental conservation, and their own capacity to promote positive environmental change. Above all, I hoped to provide students with an experience in which they could take ownership of their own learning and recognize their place in the world as environmentally conscious citizens as they continue with their education and beyond.