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Monday, March 23, 2009

Regional Environmental Education Forum in Chetumal

On Wednesday, April 18th, GVI decided to go out of its Mahahual nutshell and went out of its borders to present a poster for the First Regional Environmental Education and cenotes Forum in Chetumal (state capital of Quintana Roo). We couldn’t contribute much to spreading the knowledge of cenotes (except that some are underground), but environmental education is right up our alley so we gave it a go. Our poster described the activities we are involved in within the community of Mahahual for the last five years, emphasizing the environmental work we are doing with the secondary students, primary school kids, and whenever possible, with the adults. The poster was a beautiful Mahahual painting that included the light house, the sandy beaches, the beautiful turquoise color of the Caribbean and palm trees, done by our own intern Alex Ainscough and by our visitor from Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Baruch Figueroa Zavala.

Among the guests of honor in the forum were important people representing other important people, so, for example, the state governor sent his representative, and the municipal president sent his representative. 

GVI was represented by Luli (former NSP and intern at Pez Maya, now permanent staff at Punta Gruesa) coordinating the TEFL program, and our very own PC who has passed on the torch to Luli in the TEFL business to focus on other projects involving the expedition. It was refreshing to see that our poster was one of the most humble ones, made with the materials and means we had at our disposal, but also the only one that was not backed by the state’s local governments (the municipality of Benito Juarez, a.k.a. Cancún, and the municipality of Solidaridad, a.k.a. Playa del Carmen had many fancy posters with very interesting environmental projects).

The main lecture to kick off the forum was given by Dr. Patricia Beddows, director of the Earth Sciences and Planets department of Northwestern University in Illinois on research she had been doing in the underwater river system that is well known in the Yucatan peninsula, but many questions still remain unanswered. What was very interesting is that there is no existing legislature or guidelines for use in order to protect these vital resources within the states that have them. The coffee breaks were short, the lectures were long, so there was not enough time to network and meet the V.I.P.s to establish any commitments with future projects, but we spread the gospel of environmental awareness and were proud of our work. Looking forward to another forum or convention where we can tell people about what we are doing…until then, we got this blog.