...there is me, swimming with the Thalassia testudinum and Diploria labyrinthiformis (turtle grass and grooved brain coral)
See? I am actually learning stuff… evidence of my marine ecology class, which is very challenging. For these first three weeks, we are getting a crash-course-overload with marine organisms: last week we learned 30ish seagrasses, mangroves, and related fish; this week we is 30ish types of coral and echinoderms; next week is 50ish (??!) reef fishes. We learn scientific names and how to identify them, which is actually VERY difficult for this round, because all of the corals look alike! There are 4 types of brain coral and they are all extremely similar, differing only in the size of their groves and patterns. So we’ll see how this one goes.. who knows?! But it is neat to be able to swim over stuff at the beach and know exactly what it is;) This class is very overwhelming because the professor, with an accent, goes very fast and covers a mass amount of material in each lecture. The dynamics of tropical coastlines and oceanic environments are very complex, but interesting too for the most part. Index cards and online flashcards are visible at any time of day as we are all studying 24/7 for the next round of these tests. And we’re all getting really good at making up pneumonic devices;)
Marine resource management so far is not what I expected—it is largely focused on managing marine fisheries. The economic and social ties of managing these resources are good to see, but I am hoping we at least cover other important island resources as well. The amount of theory and calculation that goes into the management parameters is much more complex than I’d realized, so it is a new but beneficial perspective to tropical development. There are a lot of scientific papers and journals that we have to read, so I most evenings are spent in a hammock or sprawled around my room (with FANS) taking notes on these concepts.
Environmental policy and socio-economic values is my favorite class of the three because the development aspect of the island is so intriguing. We’ve focused a lot on the dynamics of South (and TCI), the importance of local participation in science and development, and tools for valuing the environment. Today we acted as consultants for the TCI government and started an economic valuation assessment for East Bay beach: this is a stunning and accessible portion of land that is a likely development tract. We measured the mangrove forest and seagrass beds to get parameters we could use to calculate the monetary value of these ecosystems and services, as part of a larger report looking at cost-benefit analysis for tourism development here. I love thinking about these problems, and especially after seeing the town (and meeting the people) I am intrigued with how the economy could be improved.
So that is school…busy but great! Mornings are pretty full with lectures or field exercises, but since we go in shifts for afternoon waterfront activities (marine ecology ID snorkeling), we have varying breaks in the afternoon and evening to relax, read, and study (and NAP..a big one. I am always exhausted!!).
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.