Mongolia’s Mining Boom: Policies, Social Interactions, and Democracy

By: Frankie Garofalo, `14

Frankie Garofalo, `14
Frankie Garofalo, `14

Mongolia has a unique situation: it has one of the last enduring pastoral societies. This society is put at risk by mining, because mining requires land that would be pastures for herding, depletes water sources necessary for herding, releases dust and chemicals into the air that degrades the health of animals and people, and destroys the topsoil of large areas. In addition, herders’ land rights are made illegitimate by mining rights and licenses. At the same time, the GDP of the nation rises, bringing some out of poverty and to the cities, as well as improving the lives of some herders. However, Mongolia’s economy has its foundations on herding, and it cannot afford to lose that foundation. An effect of a resource curse will be the end of pastoralism.  The fundamental question, which may be pertinent to other developing nations, is how to balance economic development, culture, environmental damage, and prevent social inequality.

In summary, Mongolia’s mining industry has caused and exacerbated rapid changes in Mongolia’s economy, politics, and social structures, jeopardizing the integrity of the nation’s culture; this phenomenon invites a debate of a “resource curse” and tests the viability of a democracy faced with economic, political, social, and cultural issues.

Mongolia’s Mining Boom: Policies, Social Interactions, and Democracy

The Impact of Caribbean Tourism on The Marine Environment

Ryan Schendel, `14
Ryan Schendel, `14

By: Ryan Schendel, ’14

Marine and Coastal Tourism has grown to define the Caribbean economy in the 20th and 21st century. Since it’s beginning, tourism has always centered on accommodating the needs of the tourist, and creating an environment of comfort and leisure. In the process, large changes have been engrained in Caribbean economics, environment, social structure, and government to promote the growth of this commercialized venture. This article focuses on the environmental impact that the developing tourism industry in the Caribbean has on marine ecosystems. Extensive literature review on topics such as marine activities of tourism, coastal development, increasing demand of artisanal fishing, and principles of ecology pertinent to this issue is conducted to determine possible pressures being placed on marine ecosystems. In results, findings show that a combination of these factors has perpetuated the degradation of coral reef communities and subsequently led to a decrease in fish populations. Finally, possible alternatives and solutions are reviewed to determine the future outlook to this environmental trend of decline, determining the most effective use of resources and providing present-day examples of success stories.

The Impact of Caribbean Tourism on The Marine Environment

The Rhythm of Reform: Rap and Timba as Indicators of Political and Social Change in Modern Cuba

Eliza Moley, `14
Eliza Moley, `14

By: Eliza Moley, `14

Cuba, a country that is often characterized by political instability and uncertainty, is currently undergoing a historic formative period. The music of modern Cuban rap and timba artists reflects Cuba’s precarious position on the border of liberal reform and socialist regression. My research utilizes the analysis of lyrics from five unique musical compositions in order to address the manner in which musicians express their opinions of the Cuban state. It concludes with the statement that rap and timba are imperative elements for the promotion of change and expression of dissent.
I became interested in this topic after I was given a compilation record of protest songs from the Cuban Revolution called “Si, Para Usted.” Although the Revolution occurred decades ago, the tradition of Cuban protest music has retained its strength over time. Today, the lyrics of Cuban timba and rap music, as well as the musical expression of Cuban-American dissidents, are an important and accessible vehicle for political expression both on and off the island.

The Rhythm of Reform: Rap and Timba as Indicators of Political and Social Change in Modern Cuba

The Importance of Investing in Early Childhood Development Programs: a study of different preschools and the factors leading to their success

Emily Agnew, `14
Emily Agnew, `14

By: Emily Agnew, `14

In Peru, over one-half of the population lives in extreme poverty. Parents are forced to leave their children unattended for many hours, working long 10-hour days. The Wawa Wasi “Childrenís Homes,” allow working mothers to leave their children under the care of trained health professionals. Children receive basic stimulation and nutrition- both of which they would not receive at home. This program, set up by collaboration between UNICEF and Peruís Ministry of Education is able to serve 150,000 children. Preschools like Wawa Wasi help children develop basic cognitive and social skills, giving them the early stimulation they need to succeed later in life.

More than 200 million children in developing countries do not reach their full cognitive development. This absence in development is due to a lack of nutrition, early stimulation, or resources. Early child development (ECD) programs are fundamental tools in bridging this gap, and giving children the educational stimulation they need. Children develop at a rapid rate in the first few years of their lives, making intervention essential. ECD programs have enumerable benefits, including higher school readiness, increased school performance, decreased dropout rates, grade retention, and socio-emotional stability. Low levels of childhood development are correlated with criminality, poor school performance, increased reliance on the health care system, and lower future earnings.

I became interested in researching this issue after looking at the preschools Save the Children set up in Mozambique, Africa. I wanted to look into other preschool programs, to compare and contrast what factors made each ECD program successful. Therefore, my research project evaluates six different preschools in Africa and South America to determine what factors create effective ECD programs. I found that the most significant factors in ECD programs are attending ECD programs with either personal attention or an emphasis on nutrition. Additionally, my project discusses the policy implications of ECD programs and proves that it is imperative for governments to invest in ECD for economic reason.

The Importance of Investing in Early Childhood Development Programs: a study of different preschools and the factors leading to their success

Foreign Aid and the Fight Against Malaria

Sophie Tepler, `14
Sophie Tepler, `14

By: Sophie Tepler, `14

The sun is setting on Sub Saharan Africa.  There is a feeling of calm and stillness as another day comes to a close.  A mosquito buzzes by, then two, then ten and suddenly the air is thick with the sound of buzzing and swooshing mosquitoes, looking for their next blood meal.  The scene is not so peaceful anymore.  There is the imminent danger of a mosquito bite, the looming risk of malaria.  Once every minute, a child living in Africa dies of malaria.

Malaria is a preventable and curable disease that accounts for hundreds of millions of deaths each year, especially in Africa where its burden is especially ponderous.  This paper will explore how foreign aid, in varying level of specificity, can help reduce the number of malaria cases in Sub Saharan Africa.  This was tested by collecting data on malaria infections, foreign aid, GDP and two forms of malaria protection in ten different Sub Saharan African countries for the years 2000 to 2011 and analyzing it to see the effect of these variables on dependent variable, number of malaria cases.  From this research, I found that foreign aid is associated with a decreased number of malaria cases and that health sector aid, foreign aid donated to all health related issues, was more strongly associated with a reduced number of malaria cases than total foreign aid and malaria specific aid, foreign aid donated specifically to combat malaria.
There has been a recent surge in total foreign aid in the past decade as well as an increase in health sector aid, specifically to Africa, which has been argued to be a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Can this money help reduce the number of malaria cases in Sub Saharan Africa, and if so, what is the most effective method of giving aid?  I hope to show that increased levels of foreign aid, although a broad and sometimes vague concept, is in fact associated with reduced number of malaria cases in Sub Saharan Africa.  It is predicted that malaria specific aid will be the most strongly associated with a reduced number of malaria cases then either total foreign aid or health sector foreign aid because it is specifically targeted at combatting malaria and is therefore more focused than the other two types of aid.

Foreign Aid and the Fight Against Malaria

Decades of Damage: The Psychological Effects of War on Youth in Israel and Palestine

By: Joanna Moley, `14

My research examines what type of psychological effects war has on the youth of Israel and Palestine, and how these psychological effects affect their attitudes toward the Israeli Defense Forces or terrorist groups.  I reached the conclusion that the conflict has had negative psychological effects on the youth of Israel and Palestine that leads to the Israeli children  feeling a low level of enthusiasm and the Palestinian children

Joanna Moley, `14
Joanna Moley, `14

feeling a high level of enthusiasm about becoming involved in the violence of the conflict.  This thesis was derived from the analysis of dozens of direct testimonies from Israeli and Palestinian children.  I read interviews with Palestinian children who were abducted and tortured by the Israeli Defense Force, from Israeli children who are afraid to leave their homes because of the threat of Palestinian suicide bombers, and many other similarly traumatic accounts.

The four most common categories of psychological trauma found within the testimonies were that the frustration surrounding the conflict led to violence, that the knowledge that parents and adults were unable to offer protection caused anxiety within the children, that the youths believed that leading a virtuous life would not protect them from the violence of the war or improve their futures, and the firm belief that the blame for the war fell on the enemy territory (which is an example of extreme nationalism  from both sides).  This presentation will explain the origins of these themes and the potential effect they have on the children whose accounts I analyzed.

Decades of Damage: The Psychological Effects of War on Youth in Israel and Palestine

Reflections on Berlin

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Diplomats at the Opening Ceremony

We are sitting in the airplane on our way to New York after spending the last five days in Berlin participating in the 23rd Annual Berlin Model United Nations conference. This event brought together over seven hundred students from around the world to debate global issues, ranging from the spread of cyberterrorism to the lack of access to education in the developing world. The main theme of the conference was the importance of education as the “Key to Advancement, Equality, and a Secure Future.”

As the Ambassador of Sudan, Jules Becker ’16 gave a speech  in front of hundreds of delegates who gathered for the opening ceremony at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Germany’s oldest organization to promote democracy and political education.

Jules Becker '16 gives speech at Opening Ceremony
Jules Becker ’16

The rest of the conference took place at the John F. Kennedy School, an American school founded in honor of the President’s legacy in the city. On the second day, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, the school showed a documentary about his life. It was a day that gave us pause to think about the influence of JFK’s life on international politics.

We all had many opportunities to play an active role in the conference. Some of us were assigned to represent Sudan in a variety of committees, including the Economic and Social Committee (Lily Canaan ’15), the Environmental Committee (Grant Anderson ’16), Human Rights Committee, (Lauren Mounts ’14), Political Committee, (Ashley Rintoul ’15), and Disarmament Committee, (Jules Becker ’16).

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Grant Anderson ’16

Juliet Fontana ’15 represented Sudan in a Special Conference on Education. She stood up in front of her committee of around 50 students to give quickly articulated speeches and debate delegates representing other countries. Later a local Berlin news station interviewed her about the anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Olivia Taylor ’14 and Conor Eckert ’14 represented the Russian Federation in the Historical Security Council during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq Crisis. We argued about intervention using only information available in 2003, which offered a new perspective to the event. We worked with other nations to pass several clauses and used our influential status as a nation with veto power to block resolutions. It was a great way to learn about how international affairs works.

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Olivia Taylor ’14 and Conor Eckert ’14

Outside of the conference, we had a chance to see many parts of Berlin, including the historic Reichstag government building, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial.

The Reichstag was particularly impressive. It meshed together the tradition of German democracy with Berlin’s modernity. Artists from all four of the allied nations contributed art pieces that represented the foundation of democracy. We got a tour of the German Bundestag, which taught us about how voting procedures worked in the context of the German government. The tour ended with a view from the top of Reichstag’s dome, which was breathtaking and revealed the entire Berlin skyline.

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Brandenburg Gate

Conor was also impressed by the Brandenburg Gate, where John F. Kennedy gave the famous speech in which he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” in 1963 in support of West Germany, a couple of years after the Berlin Wall had been erected.  Once a sign of political division, the Gate now stands in the heart of the city as an embodiment of German unity. It is also adjacent to the Allied Powers’ embassies, which highlights Berlin’s rich international history.

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Juliet Fontana ’15 and Olivia Taylor ’14

We also visited Checkpoint Charlie, an American military checkpoint located between East and West Berlin.  It was a center of German culture and history where we got to interact with the past by taking photos with soldiers. The museum showed the dramatic impact that the Berlin Wall had on the lives of people in Berlin. We could only fully experience this history in Berlin, learning from our surroundings and seeing historical artifacts in person, such a car with a hiding spot under the engine that helped smuggle over 400 people out of East Germany.

Berlin in many ways was an ideal place for this Model UN conference. The city itself attracted students from all over Europe and from countries around the world like Bangladesh and Taiwan. It was the most international Model UN conference that we’ve ever been to. As Olivia put it, “Sitting next to fellow high schoolers from Qatar, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia was something students of our age could only do at this Model UN conference.”

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Conor Eckert ’14 and Juliet Fontana ’15

In our free time the group stopped at the Christmas market in downtown Berlin. Along with shopping for holiday gifts, we tubed down an ice slide.  We walked to many of these attractions along the way eating traditional German meals like the comically named “Hoppel Poppel” and fresh German waffles.

The group really came together by the end of the trip, despite not knowing each other very well when we signed up. We had been looking forward to this trip for the last couple of years and the club hopes that more GFA students will have the chance to experience it in the future.

Juliet Fontana, Olivia Taylor, Conor Eckert and Jules Becker

Reflections on Berlin

Chris Maxey: The Real Captain Planet?

I recall growing up watching the Planeteers get together, combine powers, and tackle big environmental probleIsland Schoolms. “We’re gonna put pollution down to zero” is how the line goes I believe. This cartoon was such an inspiration to me growing up, I felt empowered to do anything! That riding my bike to school would make a real difference against the evil goblins behind the ocean levels rising, and the natural disasters that plague our societies. Now, older and wiser, I realize that there are not goblins to fight but human habit. How could Captain Planet be of any use now if he’s only a cartoon? Or is he?

GFA hosted a Friday speaker, whose opening line was a conch shell horn call, certain to get anyone’s attention. His second line was laying out a goal for the next ten minutes, “to change something about the way we are thinking.” Chris Maxey, part of the Island School program dedicates his time to making secondary education part of the environmental solution. He presented the students with a challenge: to purchase a solar power suitcase. This suitcase (pictured below) is not meant to move by solar power, but is a device that actually collects solar power. The benefit of such a small, compact, object is that it can be transported to some of the furthest locations in the world, solving not only a power shortage for a city that may not have infrastructure for more, but also makes use of renewable energy.

Photo from solarsuitcase.org
Photo from solarsuitcase.org

Mr. Maxey reminded me that while Captain Planet is a cartoon, there is some truth to being able to inflict small change to better the world around us. He makes change seem possible, not just an idea in a textbook. After the presentation it dawned on me that Chris Maxey might just be the new, and very real Captain Planet encouraging us to put our resources together to preserve the world where we live.

“And with your powers combined…”

-Rebekah Skoog, US French

Chris Maxey: The Real Captain Planet?

Dancing With Ambiguity

“Be willing to dance with ambiguity, and live with a longing/yearning for more” In her eloquent opening speech, Janet Hartwell, Head of School, laid out the type of student that Greens Farms Academy’s teachers are aiming to shape. Her words brought me quickly back to a conversation I had with Anne Reynaud, MS French and Spanish. Over the summer Mlle Reynaud decided to do a cultural immersion program in Panama where she spent her days with local families, doing service work, and studying the language in context.

Mlle Reynaud did what most would consider “giving up” free time in the pursuit of knowledge and to ameliorate her own skills so she might be a better teacher. Rather, Anne sees it as using her free time to continue filling that yearning for more, and she plans to continue that pursuit in another exchange next summer.

Only a few days later, I discovered that Griffen Stabler, MS English and 8th grade dean, has been using his summers to do a master in English with Bread Loaf at Middlebury College. In his own words Griffen Stabler describes his experiences at Bread Loaf, a program for people who would like to continue teaching during the year. Here are some of his own descriptions of his experiences at the end of his second summer.

It’s basically like summer camp for adult English nerds. You take two classes from world-class professors visiting from all over the country … They have campfires with poetry and fiction readings, themed Barn Dances, trips to town, basically all the stuff you’d do at a summer camp except instead of being thirteen, you’re twenty-seven and supposedly all grown-up. The fact that you’re surrounded by some of the smartest people around who share your love of books is the cherry on top. Knowing that at any moment you can ask someone what they’re reading and spend the next hour talking about your favorite books is a pretty unusual thing. I can’t think of a better place to spend 6 weeks of my summer. It has made me a better person and a better teacher. While all this may sound pretty hyperbolic, it truly is a special place. There’s none of the competition or negativity that sometimes pervades other top-tier academic programs. People are happy to be there and most are teachers, so you can compare war stories from the classroom and pick up new strategies and techniques to bring home to your own classroom. In short, it’s the best. I had a blast and can’t wait to get back there next summer. In the meantime, I’m excited to bring everything I learned back to GFA to share with my students.

Much like Anne, Griffin has chosen to put himself in a place where he can broaden his knowledge base and even reevaluate his teaching style.

Our final summer spotlight is Erin Thorkilsen, LS Kindergarden took advantage of her summer to be immersed in the culture of the Maasai people in Kenya.  Erin set out to make her experience into a single unit but found that her time spent with these people and student led to a much deeper understanding of respect and sharing. Erin writes,

What was most inspiring was the high level of respect that permeated the community.  Children showed constant respect for their elders, elders loved and honored the children, and everyone deeply respected the earth and their surroundings.  Everything was shared; many children at school shared one pencil for 5 students, ripped up a piece of paper so there would be enough for everyone, and even would break up a banana so there was enough for everyone in the village.  I’m looking forward to speaking about the Maasai on a daily basis with the kindergarten, sharing the stories of my experience, to instill the same kindness and respect in our community.

Erin took herself far from her comfort zone in pursuit of a new understanding about the world. Not only for personal growth, but to take that growth into our school’s daily life.

At the end of the World Perspectives Symposium last spring, Andrew Jones, US English and 10th grade dean, stated that the expansion of perspective must begin closer to home than we realize, that the space behind the eyes and ears that we call the mind must continue to grow and have new experiences. The accomplishments of these faculty members are only the tip of the iceberg, and I feel fortunate to be part of a team where our goal is not only to instill a curiosity for the unknown, but also to continue in its pursuit.

And more to come…

-Rebekah Skoog, US French

*Special thanks to those who shared their experiences with me.

Dancing With Ambiguity

Final Reflections from Rwanda

Caroline Rintoul, `17

As I was running with one of the Komera Scholars, my breath started getting faster and the orange dust was getting in my throat.  All I wanted to do was relieve myself of the mile I was running and start to walk like some of the other girls.  I thought about what Komera means, “be strong, be brave,” and I realized this run was not about my endurance. At the very least, I had to keep running for the girl next to me, behind me, and in front of me because their struggles are much more extensive than a run.

– Caroline Rintoul, ’17

I think I need to go back to the United States to really put this experience in perspective. I have never really thought twice about going to school, except to maybe complain about it. Here I saw children carrying jerry cans miles to get water and suddenly felt like I don’t do enough for my family… I saw a boy, Prince, who had a 2% average in his classes, but his teachers couldn’t help him because of the size of his class. I am so used to small classrooms that I didn’t know how hard it was for teaches to keep everyone under control. I never knew how lucky we are to be able to afford an education and as many water bottles as we want.”

– Daria Locher,  ‘16

Lydia Picoli ,`16

Seeing, meeting, waving, smiling at, and talking with the children of Rwanda will stick with me for the rest of my life.  At first, I looked at them with pity and their eyes looked back at me with sorrow. But I have come to see not only the children of Rwanda, but Rwanda as a whole as not just another impoverished African country where Mzungus embark on journeys designed to change the world but everyone is still miserable. Rather, Rwanda is a country full of self-reliance, hope, happiness, and peace.

– Lydia Picoli, ‘16

The kids in Rwanda welcomed us with open arms and open hearts, which made the trip more meaningful to me.   This trip gave me a better perspective of the daily life and culture of Rwanda, which I want to take with me to the United States and use to further my own life.

– Maddie Everett, ‘14

Elettra Baldi, `15I learned that we don’t appreciate going to school in the same way that children appreciate school here. I was touched by the note that Bonheur, one of the students in Kigali City School, gave me. It said: “You are so great to us. I will miss you.  Miss us as we will do so?  Come back in Rwanda as a country that likes visitors.  Anytime remember us. Anywhere you are.”

It was also great to see Olive, the girl that we sponsored through the Komera Project.  She was so grateful for what we did for her.

I don’t know why I was so nervous before landing.  I am so glad I did this. This trip was AMAZING. I am sad to leave.

– Elettra Baldi, ‘16

photoFrom the men and women who are paving the streets in front of our guesthouse to Cerafina, the tour guide at the Nyamata Memorial site, who is healing people’s hearts, Rwandans seem truly committed to their survival not just as individuals, but as a people.  I walk away thoroughly impressed with how determined Rwandans are to achieve “agaciro” (self-reliance).

– Victor Llanque, US History and Global Studies

RobbiMeeting Olive, our Komera scholar, was one highlight of the trip because it represented so many of our goals in coming here – supporting girls and their academic dreams, forging lasting friendships, and experiencing Rwanda’s infectious hope for the future.  A personal highlight for me was reconnecting with Emma and Betty from IEE and with the teachers from Remera school, where I volunteered the past two summers. Seeing their growth and joy in teaching gave me deep respect for the good work IEE is doing with the Rwandan schools. These five amazing GFA students and their leadership and passion made the past 11 days memorable and life changing.

– Robbi Hartt, MS English

Final Reflections from Rwanda