2012 Student Environmental Retreat

We all have ideas. Ideas that spin and jump and dart in and out of the conscious confines of our minds. For me, most of these ideas have the lifespan of a fish bubble. They are tiny pockets of gas that ascend rapidly, gaining size and speed until they reach the surface with a triumphant pop…before disappearing back into the aquarium of lukewarm water. How many  new year’s resolutions would be kept, charities created, and dream careers acquired if we held on to our little bubble ideas? I wonder what would happen if we didn’t shake our heads quite as much, acknowledging our newest inspiration as “just plain crazy”? Well this is my bubble idea turned reality.

I got thinking about all the interesting and dedicated students who have a passion for the environment. Environmental Studies as a major has grown astronomically in popularity and I don’t see that going away any time soon. Our generation is already dealing with climate change, threatening weather patterns, increasing population, and decreasing food supply. We are the future leaders with the responsibility to look toward the future and turn international conversations into realistic action plans.

I came back to school in the fall with a thought. Why wait for leaders of the world to come to an agreement on the energy crisis, CO2 reductions and policies on sustainable development? Change can just as easily start with the youth in America as anywhere in the world. And so, with the tremendous help from Cathy Myers, the executive director of the Bucknell University’s Environmental Center, and Carol High, the program support coordinator, the 2012 Student Environmental Retreat was born.

What: The 2012 Student Environmental Retreat

Who: Participants from eight liberal arts colleges and universities from Pennsylvania: Gettysburg, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Franklin and Marshall, Villanova, Dickinson, West Chester, and Bucknell

What: The retreat is a two-day event where students have the opportunity to present and exchange a variety of environmental programs currently working on their college campuses. Students and faculty advisors share ideas and create individual campus-specific action plans  to implement at their home universities based on the projects discussed at the retreat.

Where/When: Bucknell University’s Conference Center on February 11th and 12th.

I uploaded the Invitation Letter and Proposed Agenda for easy reading. The application can be found here and the deadline is January 20th 2012. Contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding the content or deadline.

I highly encourage any undergraduate student who attends one of the aforementioned schools to consider attending. If nothing else, the retreat is a great way to meet people who are similarly dedicated to your own goals and aspirations. Want to change the world? The time is now.

Well the time is actually February 11th and 12th but you know what I mean.


Road Revolution: Cebu City, Philippines

Road Revolution- roadrevolution.ph

Cebu City is located a little over an hour south of Manila by plane. As soon as we landed, I checked into my room and rushed with Atty. Oposa to the press conference. Different members from TV and radio stations were present, weaving between one another in the small room of the Casino Espanol. On the panel was Atty. Oposa who gave the main presentation followed by members of 350.org, youth leaders, and other main organizers of the event. I sat in the back and smiled, hoping no one would try to ask me something in Cebuano.

Presentation at Dept. of Education for Students
Presentation at Dept. of Education for Students

The rest of the day was packed. We made our first stop along Osmena Boulevard, the street that would be closed down on Sunday June 12th. Next, we traveled to a trade school and saw the making of the Renewable Energy train (RE Train) that runs exclusively on petal, solar and wind power. We spoke on air at three different radio programs to explain the Road Revolution and encourage citizens of Cebu City to come support the cause. On the last program, an FM station, I was able to introduce and explain the event in English…the only language I know. I got back to my room around 10pm, throughly exhausted and content with the day’s work.

Me and Brian at the radio station DYRF

It is amazing how quickly the people here switch between their native language and English to communicate. The language spoken in Manila by the general public and my host family is not the same language spoken here in Cebu. People in Manila speak the national language, Tagolog, while the people in Cebu speak Cebuano- a variety of Basaya the language in the middle region of the Philippines. The majority of the vocabulary is different and I had to re learn basic phrases like “How are you?” and “Good night.” By relearn, I mean promptly forget spelling and pronunciation as soon as they are uttered. I have yet to understand why Filipinos would decide to start words with ng. Don’t try to pronounce this at home, folks. Words like ngit ngit (dark) are strictly meant to be said by professionals.

Renewable Energy Train in the Workshop

The next day included another radio interview, a marriage proposal from a father whose son is a single doctor in Ohio, visits to three different grade schools, and my first ever jeepney ride. All in a day’s work. In two days, I have not only learned about what the Road Revolution is but explained it to small children, adults, and teachers all across Cebu City. It got me thinking. What are the future implication of this Road Revolution? We have collected over 6,500 signatures in effort to expand sidewalks, increase bike lanes, and introduce mass public transportation along with edible gardens. I’m amazed by the progressiveness of the idea, prevalent in a “developing country” no less. I’m surrounded by people with big ideas and deep convictions people dedicated to protecting and restoring our natural environmental in order to save humanity from itself. I just hope I can somehow prove myself amidst this group of intelligent, dedication stewards of our beautiful planet. One road at a time.