It’s World Wildife Day – and when I think of places where wildlife really defines the lives of children, the Galapagos Islands immediately spring to mind. Children are taught about environmental issues such as indigenous species vrs ‘introducidas’ almost before they learn their ABCs. And rightly so, since the unique flora and fauna of the Islands is extremely delicate, world-famous – and the thousands of tourists who flock to the Islands to witness the untouched wildlife bring in a substantial amount of income.
I was there a few years ago, doing a story about two young boys whose lives would be shaped by environmental policies – Jonathan, a fisherman’s son, and Tairon, the son of a (tourist) ship captain. But I didn’t do the story alone. Emily Pozo from the non-profit ICE was an enormous help in getting the ball rolling, as were the two schools in Philadelphia, who ‘joined’ me through a website put up by MAGPI/Uni of Penn. The schools put together packages – including books introducing themselves – for their ‘partner’ schools in the Galapagos, and in turn, the Island kids made their own packages. The last I heard, the schools were all still in touch with one another. The USA schools followed my trip by producing detailed timelines and their own stories – at the end of the project, they were well-versed in the intricate and complex issues of the Islands, and spoke with consummate ease about iguanas, tortoises, blue-footed boobies and frigates. It was an amazing example of learning through doing. I wish I could have schools ‘accompany’ me on every trip. Here are a few images from the Project (see more images under Galleries>Stories>Galapagos Islands)