“TEACHING ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD” This is an innovative and dynamic environmental education program. The program enriches students and increases their awareness about the natural world, exposes teachers to new material, enhancing their capacity as educators, and it reaches out into the community to foment environmental awareness.
It seems like just a short time ago that we wondered into Sabalo School with our boxes full of paints, posters, puppets, and movies to begin our environmental education program Learning is Change. Fifty hours of lessons later there is still so much we want to share with the children, and the amazing thing is that they really don”™t want us to leave. Every Thursday they await the sound of our truck approaching the school knowing that a day of fun and much learning is about to begin. Every week, in what I consider to be a bucolic tiny village, a paradise of sorts perhaps, the natural world comes to life for these children and their teacher.
Through the weeks we have realized that the blue whale although very, very large is tiny compared to Mount Everest, and Mount Everest miniscule compared to the Earth, and the Earth almost microscopic compared to our Sun, and that big ball of life giving fire is but a speck in the Milky Way, and so it goes, on and on. Our beautiful Earth, us, and all its magnificent features and critters are so, so, so, tiny, and yet, this is everything that we are, this is where life happens.
We”™ve explored rainforests and the many, many things that they have given us; everything from chocolate to rubber to hundreds of medicines. In fact, we now fully understand how almost every single one of the many things in our daily lives comes straight from nature or is derived from nature.
We”™ve discovered deserts and marveled at how the poles are considered deserts (getting less than 50cm. of rain/yr.), and thus Antarctica is technically the largest desert on the Planet, the Sahara the largest hot desert, and the Atacama in Chile the driest one, since once in a while, every so many years, it gets a little bit of rainfall! Hard to picture when one lives in a country that receives between 100cm.-600cm. of rainfall per year.
The deep oceans were a beautiful mystery for all of us. Who would have imagined that the immense blue harbors the majority of living organisms, produces half of the Planet”™s oxygen, has the longest mountain range, the highest mountains, and the deepest canyons on Earth. One of our favorite days was the lesson on coral reefs, ” the rainforests of the oceans” since like the tropical rainforests they are some of the most biodiverse places on the Planet.
Our weekly adventures to Sabalo are coming to an end for this year and we are spending our last lessons in amazement of the invaluable substance that sustains life on Earth, water. Whether in vast amounts or little amounts, frozen solid at the poles, gushing through rivers, stored quietly in the ground, swirling the world round in the oceans, or loose and happily floating in the atmosphere, water is what keeps all of life vibrant! Understanding its importance and why it needs to be conserved, even in places that have a lot of it, is essential.
With these 20 children and their teacher, we have painted and danced, researched and experimented, read some stories and written some poetry, meditated and run a lot of races; all along reflecting on what it means to be journeying on this Planet, undeniably all of us connected always. We have laughed much and we have learned a thing or two that might just help us all move towards a more sustainable future”¦..after all, learning can lead to change.
BPS (blog postscript): Equilibrium would like to thank our partner Arenas del Mar for all their support in making Learning is Change happen at Sabalo. The warm meals, a bed to sleep in, and that mighty truck are a huge help towards the maintenance of our operation. A special thank you to the staff that have joined us throughout the program for a day of teaching; I know you all really liked it!