Environmental Studies and Honduras
- By Jillian Vander Vinne
As an Environmental Studies major, an infatuation with nature is normal, and even expected, and with the addition of experiencing a tropical country with the opportunity to see ecosystems so unlike Canada’s, an excitement is catalyzed. The Honduras Water Project is an initiative run through King’s Micah Centre in partnership with World Renew, with a goal of engaging students in another culture through direct interaction and experiences in small Honduras communities. The annual service learning project provides the opportunity for team members to develop relationships with participants and those living in villages. The students not only interact and connect with the local people, but also with the foreign nature surrounding them. The ecosystem in Honduras varies depending on the region between dense green forests and areas covered with smaller bushes called mangroves. This unique environment allows Environmental Studies majors who participate in the project, as well as other students, to better appreciate something that is potentially a new experience for them.
Erin Greidanus, an Environmental Studies major at King's with a Biology concentration, decided to participate in the Honduras Water Project this year. She elected to go because she grew up taking part in similar experiences with her father, and she saw value in the Honduras Project and wanted to venture out on her own. Erin wants to use this international project as a learning experience going forward as she has future goals of participating in international development projects. When asked how she thinks this service learning project will impact her degree in Environmental Studies, Erin displayed an interest in creation care and “seeing how we care for creation in different communities and cultures” impacts her education beyond the classroom. Erin looks forward to having another chance to experience a new culture and gain understanding from the local people as well as the instructors leading the project, such as Roy Berkenbosch, and witnessing how projects such as this can make an impact.
Heather Gilker, the Micah Centre Administrative Assistant and an ENVS alumna, journeyed previously to Honduras when she attended The King’s University, and she iterated how impactful the experience was on her life. When asked about what she thought the general aim for the trip was, she said it was a “learning opportunity that exposes students to community development” and alternative cultures. When Heather describes the natural environment in Honduras in her own words, she explained it as “rugged and hilly,” with the areas containing villages and towns remaining largely untouched, but the urban areas are quite similar to North America.
Experiencing a culture and natural environment so unlike Canada’s supplies students with the potential to grow by serving others and enjoying creation. Participating in the Honduras Water Project could potentially stimulate alternative thinking due to having the opportunity to see firsthand the difference between day-to-day life from home in Canada to Honduras as well as the different landscapes and ecosystems. As mentioned by Erin, creation care can be applied across borders with the knowledge of schooling and living experiences in both countries. Students have the opportunity to see, learn, and take part in a way of living unfamiliar to that of North America, and can influence personal change once the students return home. The Honduras Water Project is a service learning experience with immeasurable potential to impact a student’s perspectives on alternative cultures, different ways of living, and foreign ecosystems as well as getting to know the native Hondurans personally.