I’ve been in the Philippines for more than two years, and it was just today I realized the importance of sharing my International Development experience with others beginning their journey. This inspiration came to me while out on a walk at sunrise in the rice fields of Antique. I’m serving as a Coastal Resource Management (CRM) Extension Worker in the Western Visayas, Philippines. I work mainly in the coastal barangays, and basically, I inspire children to love the ocean and marine environment. The Fisher Folk children and I play games, do activities, make crafts, and engage in Service Learning Projects that help rehabilitate the environment. Sound fun? It’s contagious work! I’m staying a third year actually - and such education is incredibly necessary for the Philippines right now.
|My host brothers looking festive during our going-away celebration!|
Currently, the Philippines is engaged in one of the most severe environmental battles around the globe (BROAD, 1993). Manila remains one of the most polluted cities worldwide, and the Philippines is one of the top three countries contributing to the most plastic waste in the ocean. Families depend on surrounding resources for their immediate survival, which has resulted with Natural Resource degradation. The 1993 literary work Plundering Paradise declares “there are few places you can go in the Philippines without meeting some sort of ecological disaster” (BROAD, p. 31).
However, the Environmental War is not exclusive to this Southeast Asian country. The United States is facing its own environmental crisis in the form of elevated CO2 emissions , toxic waste, and over-use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. More educators from the US and from around the world are striving to Teach for Environmental Consciousness and Change. Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) are the first steps to bring about awareness for the environment, and it is in this capacity I have been serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I am grateful to have this unique International experience engaging in work I am passionate about. What I did not expect was a reinvention of myself! An entirely new person emerged and I discovered a new Ecological Me. This Blog gives insight into my two year experience thus far. It also shares a variety of Environmental Education activities that any Peace Corps Volunteer - regardless of sector - could attempt at his or her own site in the Philippines. This Blog is essentially a guideline for how to incorporate Environmental Education into Peace Corps work. Additionally, the following activities may be useful Stateside for Environmental Educators, Park Rangers, or teachers looking for new activities to try with students.
My new Close Of Service (COS) date is October 16, 2016. During my third year of service I will continue to use nature to inspire Filipino children and to bring about awareness for the environment. I am also interested to learn more about Filipino solutions to environmental problems, which I can share at home later. I’ve learned from this experience that it is in the most devastated of places that the most ingenious environmental inventions arise. The Philippines has many creative solutions that Americans and other countries can learn from. This Blog is meant to share these solutions. To conclude my writing, I must say that I am grateful the idea came to me this morning while I was out on my morning walk. And I will continue to walk through the rice fields at sunrise looking for inspiration, just as I will continue to eat rice with my hands. I will thoroughly enjoy both!
|One of my morning walks through the rice fields!|
Broad, R. & Cavanagh, J. (1993). Plundering Paradise: The Struggle for the Environment in the Philippines. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.