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by Gaby Aguinaga & Robert Balfour, Program Coordinators – Academy of Agents of Change
Date of entry to Galapagos: 17 of February
Date leaving Galapagos: 21 of February
Our Palmer Trinity students from Miami arrived in Galapagos on the 17th of February. They landed at Santa Cruz Island airport (situated in the neighboring island of Baltra) wearing heavy clothes for the Andes, tired from all the activities performed in Lago San Pablo (and from waking up at 4am in the morning to make the flight on time!) But above all, they were extremely excited to finally be in the Galapagos Islands.
The day they arrived it was blistering hot with a clear blue sky and while waiting at the main dock for the speed boat that would take them to the island of Isabela (their final destination for module 5), they witnessed Galapagos already putting on a “show” for them. Sea lions were there to greet them, blue-footed boobies were diving looking for fish, and rays were majestically swimming by.
By the time of their arrival, all participants had already practiced presenting their initiatives in Lago San Pablo, had organized their financial plans for those initiatives, and were finishing up their “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. Initiative ideas included: extracurricular classes on important topics for teenagers from various areas of Miami, mobile applications for carpooling and organizing community transportation efforts, art education programs for teenagers on how to create meaningful cartoons to tell personal stories, project work focused on climate change in the general area of Miami, and awareness campaigns centered on producing art using waste found in coastal areas.
While in Isabela, the group went through all the activities that have become a trademark of the Academy. They ascended and climbed in Sierra Negra Volcano, went snorkeling nearby the port, and had Eduardo Balarezo (Founder of Lonesome George & Co.) with them for the last day in Isabela to do a practice run of their panel presentations.
On the 20th of February, the whole group came back from Isabela to the Island of Santa Cruz and after a quick dash to the hotel we had the entire group gather at the central headquarters of the Academy of Agents of Change in Puerto Ayora. They were able to tour the Lonesome George & Co. shop and the office of the Academy where everything started. We invited the Agents of Change from generation 2012, 2013 and 2014 (from the Galapagos academy programs) and everyone was so excited to meet each other.
The most important activity of the night was a talk given by Carolina Proaño. She is a scientist who has been working in the islands for several years and the presentation was all about her work with conservation in the islands, how passionate she is about this subject and how important it is to follow your dreams. Carolina was a panelist during the presentation phase of the Agents’ initiatives from generation 2013 and knew exactly the level excitement and anticipation that the Palmer Trinity Agents were feeling at that moment.
After Carolina’s talk, we all went for dinner at it was the perfect moment for the Galapagos agents to meet more in depth with the Palmer Trinity Agents. They talked about all the different experiences they’d had throughout the modules. David from Galapagos showed the Palmer Trinity group all the marketing materials he has created for his initiative, the “Galapagos Dog” Project. Nikol, also from Galapagos, had a great conversation with Maria from Palmer Trinity, sharing many insights about the Academy experience. Ultimately, both groups hailing from thousands of miles away from each other, from different continents and with a diverse range of backgrounds, were able to come together and share in one amazing experience together…being Agents of Change!
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