Global Environmental Summer Academy 2015: Week 1 update
I was lucky to attend the Global Environmental Summer Academy (GESA) in Switzerland from 26 July to 15 August 2015. I am publishing a series of three letters that I sent to all those who supported my fundraising efforts at Gloria’s environmental leadership. I want everyone to know what what GESA is all about and hopefully many more people can benefit from future editions, like I did. If you are interested in environmental issues, critical thinking, innovative solutions or community driven resource governance this academy is for you. If you think there is something fundamentally wrong with the way this world is governed and structured, this course is most definitely for you.
Global Summer Academy – Week 1 update
I am writing you this email because you all supported me to raise funds in order to attend this summer academy. I remain most sincerely grateful for your kindness and generosity. I thought it would be nice to send you weekly updates on what I am doing since this OUR project.
So, warm greetings from Bern! We have 21 participants from 18 countries (chosen from 502 applicants!) attending this academy. I arrived on Sunday 26th July. We left for a two day retreat to the Alps and we had quite a wonderful time there. During that time we engaged in work that reconnects us with all of nature and each other. I really liked the aspects of being conscious of our place on earth and using that as a stepping stone to engage constructively with environmental issues of our time(s).
Below is a small video of the Alps
We returned to Bern after the two days and embarked on presentations about our work or projects. There is an amazing group of people here! People doing lots of interesting work in subjects that are of great interest to me; indigenous knowledge systems, food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, climate change, the politics of water, disaster management and biodiversity conservation. I learnt and continue to learn so much through listening to and interacting with these colleagues. The best thing for me is that I do not have to explain my work so much (I find that I often have to). This is the first time since starting my PhD that I have come across a group of people who easily get and support what I do. For the sake of those who do not know, my research focus is on how to leverage on indigenous knowledge systems in order to ensure sustainable people-forest relationships.
My presentation was well received and I got a lot of good feedback. I used the three legged African stool as a metaphor to discuss my research work and shared this short video by Wangari Maathai which people really liked or related to. Watch it here I will be a humming bird. We shall be giving improved versions of the same talks at a TED talk style workshop that will be open to the public and the videos will be posted online so we will all get to see that.
We also have also been learning how to film and I am extremely interested in this since I want to film some of my research work. We produced small films in groups and my colleagues say that I should consider a career in Hollywood . I even got offers from those who are willing to be my agents – ha!
Oh, I forgot something very important that I really like (this update is getting rather lengthy!). During the break times we have what is referred to as ‘ethnobothany breaks’. I LOVE this part of the programme!! So, what happens here is that participants share food that they brought from their countries and give some explanation about it. It is so interesting to hear the different stories about food/foodways. So far we have shared food from Morcocco, Cyprus, Hungary, Canada, USA, Finland, Italy and Turkey. I am still thinking about what to make.