Hello, beautiful family and friends! My name is Kenni Rose! I am seventeen years old and an upcoming senior at Oakland School for the Arts. I was the leader of Environmental Day alongside my good friend Liam! I chose to lead today because I truly believe in the importance of conserving our environment. This morning we learned that in the United States alone we purchase more than 29 million bottles of water each year. Of that 29 million only 13% is recycled. I believe that in the United States there is a lot of awareness surrounding environmental issues (such as the amount of plastic waste produced) but not a lot of action is taken. I know we are the future and I want to do everything in my power to keep our world safe. Environmental Day taught us the importance of recycling and replanting to prolong our time on this planet. 

Today was a learning experience. We started off our morning bright and early with a late wake-up call provided by me, oops! (Momma don’t make fun of me in the comments, I have a reputation here for being on top of my stuff!) After these past few exhausting days, I slept through my alarm and I still feel horrible about it. Thanks to my supportive friend, Oz, we were able to wake everyone up  fifteen minutes before breakfast. With the cooperation of this amazing group we pulled ourselves together quickly and were on time to breakfast. After our delicious breakfast, we finished getting ready and gathered in the lobby for a mental warm-up. Here, we learned about our upcoming speaker, Maria Reina, and what she does at the Centro de Acopio Campo Lindo (the recycling center 10 minutes from downtown Constanza). After our mental warm-up, we did a mid-trip reflection and had a short discussion about things we can improve on as a group and our GGL’s roles. It was very productive and definitely improved our group for the better!  We then jumped on the bus and headed over to the recycling center.

On our bus ride, we asked our favorite driver Bryan a few questions and sang some of his favorite songs! When we reached our destination we got off the bus and saw a tiny green building filled with big white bags and piles of cardboard. I gave our injured girl, Meli, a piggyback ride over and we embarked on our first learning experience. We began asking questions to two of the workers, Jose Ramon and Edgar. We learned that Constanza is very committed to recycling, though many of the community members are unaware of the issues present in their community. 

Maria Reina arrived and gave one of the best speeches of the trip so far. She is a very strong and confident woman who cares an immense amount about her community and the environment. Ms. Reina believes that the most important way to help the environment is to get creative. Using her own advice she has worked to make chairs from tires, plates from sugarcane fibers and grocery bags from potato skins. Constanza is a large farming community and is known for its agriculture. With agriculture, comes waste. Maria works with the farmers in her community and has them bring the plastic from their insecticides to the recycling center. To encourage this behavior she gives them space to advertise their farms. Maria Reina’s work was very inspiring to us as students. Her devotion to her work and the passion in her voice empowered us to have a stronger impact in our community and a deeper connection to ourselves. 

After Maria Reina’s speech, we got to classify plastic. We learned that there are four different types of plastic and that before sending the plastic to be reused they must remove the lids and categorize the bottles. We separated polystyrene. To be honest, the first five minutes were fun, we got to squish the bottles and separate them by squishy and non-squishy! Eventually, the chemical smell was very strong and even though we had on masks, the smell was overwhelming for some and gave them headaches! Don’t worry though, we were safe, the bottles are triple-washed before arrival and we were completely covered head to toe. Then to finish up our activities at the recycling center we wrapped it up with big love and thanked Jose Ramon and Edgar for working with us. We loved their dedication to their volunteer work and educating us on the difficulties of recycling. Now, this is my time to say adios and let my partner write about the rest of our amazing day! I had the best time working with Liam as the Leader of the Day and am so grateful for the group of students I get to share these experiences with! I love and miss you tons momma and dadda and sissy and davey! See you all soon! Don’t worry about me, I am having a blast here! 

Hey loved ones! I’m Liam Stanley and I was co-Leader of the Day for Environmental Day. I’m 16 years old and I go to Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California. Throughout the whole trip and months beforehand, I’ve been super excited to put the leadership skills I’ve gathered into practice. When we were choosing which days we wanted to be LDD, I chose environment day to lead because of the topic’s significance in daily life just about everywhere in the world. It’s also a topic that I’m interested in and wanted to learn more about. At the beginning of my time as LDD, I’d been struck by the significance of the carbon footprint that we’ve left as a species. One of the statistics that I found most frightening is that every ten years, the world loses 2% of its forests due to deforestation. When I thought about how many trees must be getting cut down across the world every year, as well as how much time is left before trees become a scarce resource, I wanted to know more about how I can prevent further damage to our environment. With the in-depth activities we did today, I wasn’t disappointed.

After learning about the importance of recycling various plastics at the Centro de Acopio Campo Lindo, we went to the Environmental Ministry of Constanza. There, we did another mental warm-up where we talked about issues such as mass deforestation and pollution which are both incentivized by individual profit at the cost of the environment. We then discussed a concept introduced by our program coordinator called circular economy. The main idea of the term is to incentivize large corporations to adopt an environmentally-sustainable business model by making profit out of waste. I was immediately struck that despite how obvious the better option is as opposed to a linear economy, so many companies are still dumping millions of tons of garbage into our oceans. 

After some free time and a competitive game of musical chairs that I won, (great game, Zoe!) we ate a delicious lunch prepared by Miguelito and Franklin at the Environmental Ministry. During lunch, I had the privilege of sitting next to our guest speaker for the day, Yendy Taveras. Yendy is a director of environmental education and forest fire management. I decided to embrace my role as LDD and start up a conversation with him despite my decent but shaky knowledge of Spanish. When I asked him what he does, he simply told me he’s ‘the fireman boss,’ which I appreciated because I could actually understand what he meant. On the topic of fires, we talked about the increasing frequency and severity of forest fires in the Constanza mountains. This immediate threat to the environment felt very real to me due to the numerous devastating wildfires in California the past few years. During our conversation, it was great to get to know him and see how large of a part that his passion for protecting the environment plays in his daily life. He also told me about his seminars about the environment that he gives at various schools at all levels, including his 5-year-old daughter’s class. The class all drew pictures of things they love about the environment like beaches, trees, and other stuff that makes you want to figure out how to say, “Awwww!” correctly in Spanish.

Yendy’s commitment to educating the upcoming generation about living a sustainable lifestyle as well as his tremendous effort towards improving the current state of the area around Constanza is exemplified in the nursery at the Environmental Ministry. When we visited the nursery, we were given a tour of the process so we could see firsthand how people are doing everything they can to make a difference. The nursery exists to grow large numbers of trees and other plants in a controlled environment. This is accomplished in four stages. The first process is germination, where seeds are planted by the pound in sand beds to grow about an inch tall. The plants are then pulled from the sand and replanted into soil with natural fertilizers such as ash and fungus to strengthen the plant’s growth. After being replanted, the plants grow in an area covered by a see-through tarp to maintain humidity and keep the soil from drying out due to sun exposure (It’s REALLY hot in there!). Once the plants reach the desired length, they are brought outside where they are given less water, nutrients, and exposed to the elements in order to prepare them for replantation. When ready to be planted, the pant is removed from its temporary planter tube and wrapped up, ready to be brought to the forest or given for free to anybody who would like to plant their own tree. Something that I found extremely interesting about the tour was the way I could relate one of the nursery’s processes to the idea of a circular economy. During the tour, I saw a team of workers burning the casings of rice to be used in the ash that fertilizes the soil. Seeing the idea put into practice by taking waste from agriculture production and using it to help plant the trees was awesome!

Hi, it’s Kenni again! I am writing about our next adventure to help Liam out! After our amazing experience at the Environmental Ministry, we gathered back onto the bus and headed over to the park. Our amazing GGL’s (Fabiola, Silvi, Analleli and Farima) put together a little surprise for us. We have all been asking for a great place to get some empanadas because they sounded delicious, but no one was sure where we could get some that wouldn’t upset our tummies. Instead of us all making the poor decision to buy empanadas anyways they had our food providers make us some with the proper ingredients! They were delicious and everyone was very happy! After our delicious snack we had free time! Alongside Farima and Analleli we split into two groups and went shopping at a few thrift stores, supermarkets and souvenir shops. As always, it was super fun! One group got lost but in the end had a fun time finding their way back. The other group hit around 15 stores and had a great time finding fun outfits and souvenirs (and some midnight snacks)! Thank you again to our insanely dedicated and considerate leaders and everything they have done for us today and throughout the trip! We love you bunches! Thank you Liam for working alongside me today! You were a great partner and we separated the workload in a great way! 


Quote of the Day: 

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” -Henry David Thoreau. This quote ties in perfectly to our day because it addresses directly what our reality is if we don’t work to improve our environmental issues. Today we learned the importance of recycling and replanting even though it is a lot of work. If we don’t work to have a tolerable healthy planet we will have no place for a home and no chance for survival. 

Question of the Day: 

“What are the challenges that farmers face due to climate change and what are some strategies that are used to alleviate climate change impacts? At our nightly meeting, we addressed this question in a deep discussion. We came together with the conclusion that farmers face many challenges due to climate change. These include poor air conditions, random rainfalls and sporadic changes in weather. We also went into detail about the idea of a circular economy. They use strategies such as using the rice to produce ash for soil, recycling the plastic from insecticides and transitioning into organic production. 


This wraps up our blog post for Environmental Day! Thank you guys for reading this insanely long and overly detailed post! We hope you got a glimpse of what our day was like! 

Signing Off, 

❤️ Kenni & Liam ❤️