Sustainable Study Abroad Grants 2014-15

Rachel Eisman
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
"Food Education"
With the support of Corporación Laguna Verde, an environmental organization based in Valparaíso, Chile, I will be creating a class for elementary and middle school aged children to teach them to be aware of where their food comes from.  Questions like, “Where was my food grown?” or “How was the farm worker who picked this food treated?” or “What chemicals were used in growing this food?” are important, but often overlooked questions when we sit down for a meal.  The purpose of this class will be to teach Chilean students to be mindful of their own food system, and give them the skills they need to start making changes in their own schools or homes.

Adriana Bräu-Díaz
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
"Locally grown: utilizing gardening as a tool for nutrition education"
The public elementary school system in Chile has actively worked to establish environmentally focused afterschool workshops for children from 1st to 6th grade. Working through these established workshops at Naciones Unidas public school in Valparaíso, Chile, I will be developing a nutrition workshop to teach in the context of the garden in where the children have been planting native trees and various vegetables and herbs over the past two years. These workshops are intended to show the students ways in which they can interact with their environment in a positive manner, specifically in ways that will benefit both their own health and the health of their environment. The grant will be used to fund an irrigation system in the garden so that it can expand into a larger space, and so that it can remain taken care of year-round, even when school is not in session, so that the plants will remain alive and well and the children can learn about all the benefits of gardening for years to come.

Anna Mei Gubbins
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
"Sowing a Better World: the Value of Stewardship"
During my semester in Chile, I have been working at La Escuela República Argentina, which is a public elementary school in Valparaíso.  This school has dedicated a significant amount of time and effort into developing an educational program that teaches students about environmental issues and establishing good habits to care for the environment.  The curriculum aims to incorporate classroom lessons and activities about environmental concerns with hands-on learning to reinforce the lessons. In the workshop, I will work with the children and teach them how to build wooden planters, plant seeds, water the plants, make compost, use the compost from their lunches to create fertile soil, and care for the plants that will grow. Then students will be assigned activities to help them reflect on the lessons they have learned in the classroom and share the information with their friends and families.  The aim is to create a ripple effect to help educate and enrich the entire school community as well as their individual homes.  

Stephanie Latour
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
“Alas Chileans” Local biodiversity through the study of birds
I’m working with the Laguna Verde Corporation to design and teach an educational workshop that will introduce and raise the awareness of children ages 9-12 about birds with a special emphasis on native species and costal and urban ecosystems located nearby. Our goal is to help the students recognize and form positive relationships with the local environments and their inhabitants so they will better understand and take active roles in their conservation. The lessons will include basic information about birds as well as how birds relate to culture and the environment as a whole. The children will also have the opportunity to visit and observe birds in nearby natural ecosystems that are outside of their usual experience during two short excursions.

Sofia Maluf
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
Field Trip With Students From La Escuela “El Bosque”
The purpose of this project is to take students from La Escuela “El Bosque”, a public school in Valdivia, Chile, on a field trip to local water and waste treatment facilities. This school is one of the few schools that is implementing and environmental education program into their curriculum, and part of the process of teaching students about the environment is helping them to understand that all of their actions have a consequence. In this case, seeing where water and waste is processed and treated will be very useful to them.

Morgan Raith
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
"IUCN World Parks Congress"
From November 11 to 20 I will be attending the IUCN World Parks Congress at the Olympic Park in Sydney. This event occurs once every ten years gathering world leaders and prominent environmentalists for a conversation aimed at improving global sustainability. As a student delegate I will be participating in a stream focused on inspiring a new generation of environmentalists. I hope to gain insight into educational strategies that encourage awareness about the human environment and how it relates to natural processes on a local and global scale. My ultimate goal is to return to Middlebury with ideas for a workshop or ongoing series of events that spark environmental awareness and bring together students from the college and nearby elementary schools.

Claudia von Nostitz
Middlebury School in Latin America, Chile
"The Greenhouse Effect: Integrating the Plastic Art into Environmental Studies"
I’ve had the privilege of interning with the Middlebury-founded organization, Manos Verdes, for the last few weeks, working with fourth graders from Escuela Pacífico, a local community elementary school, in an afterschool sustainability and environmental program.  We are working to teach the students the foundations of sustainable living, recycling, and green conscientiousness, through the process of renovating a greenhouse in the schoolyard, helping the children design and execute their own plans while fostering a safe, open, creative, and conscientious learning environment.  Through the investigation of ways to incorporate tactile styles of learning into through artistic expression, I have learned that environmental studies can be conducted with much more efficacy and leave long lasting impressions on the students when integrated with artistic teaching styles and strategies.  In terms of tactile or plastic artistic expression, there arises a very real way of reinforcing the themes of sustainability lessons through the execution of tactile, hands-on learning.  Through artistic education, students will have a way to contextualize and directly relate to themes of recycling, constructing, maintaining, and interacting with nature and the environment.