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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Buenos Aires, Tigre, Argentina

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Buenos Aires, Tigre, Argentina
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Registered: October 2017
City/Town/Province: Tyler
Posts: 1
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Sustainability & Urban Development

Two summers ago, I traveled to Buenos Aires to "be the change I want to see most in this world." I volunteered with Global Leadership Adventures to serve others and to preserve the ecosystem. Buenos Aires faces many challenges two of which are meeting the needs of the poor and indigent and addressing the increasing dilemma of climate change. Serving alongside 20 other teenagers from all over the world, we aimed to play an active role in aiding the neediest people with newly gained knowledge of sustainability practices. Even though our time was limited, we helped many people. Time well spent, this trip inspired my desire to become an environmental scientist specializing in sustainability practices in urban development.
Our group began to help by first gathering plastic bottles and used paper from a local recycling center. With the paper we collected, we stuffed these bottles and made ecoladrillos, or ecobricks. Costing very little to make, these handmade "bricks" (when covered with freshly made adobe) make extremely sturdy, yet very affordable, sustainable structures.
Villas miserillas are the shanty towns or favelas of Buenos Aires. My cohort traveled to one of these "neighborhoods of misery" with freshly made ecoladrillos in order to serve its elderly residents. We built above-ground vegetable gardens for the community to tend collectively. Now, elderly mal-nourished residents are able to plant, grow, and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables at a minimal cost. The food they grow in their garden helps sustain them through their poverty.
A primary school located in another economically disadvantaged area of Tigre, Argentina was next. There, the mayor of Tigre spoke to us explaining how limited financial resources are for schools of the villas miserillas, and teachers spoke of the difficulties they have meeting the socio-affective needs of students who often come hungry. While there, we not only dedicated some time teaching conversational English to students, we also built a storage unit made of ecoladrillos. Designed to be a food pantry, our shed cost little to build, and requires minimal overhead to maintain. But the return will be great in the future.
Our final mission was to help one of Argentina's largest psychiatric hospitals. Hospital Jose Tiburcio Borda, or 'El Borda', treats patients suffering from severe mental disorders, and it encourages patients to express themselves artistically. This hospital receives no government assistance; instead, it runs off donations and funds received from patients' art sales. Our task was to build a therapeutic flower bed splashed with profuse color. Elias Saucedo, an actor and former patient stated, "The hospital keeps growing" and, "the escape it provides patients is second to none." (Lyons, Valli, and Gmach 2016) In an article date June of 2016 article, writer Juliette Lyons wrote that the artistic center of the hospital "keeps growing . . . the escape it provides patients with is second to none." (Lyons, Valli, and Gmach 2016) Lyons further cited Elias Saucedo stating, "We are . . . redesigning the garden . . . a long-term project for which we have had so much help from young outsiders. . . ." (Lyons, Valli, and Gmach 2016) I was fortunate to be one of these young outsiders who aided in providing an affordable improvement that is simultaneously respectful to the environment and the locals' cultural identity. The redesigned garden included flamboyant flower beds made of the colorful ecoladrillos we used. Once finished, patients were effusive in their thanks, and I kept my smile for days.
My time in Bueno Aires initiated my desire to integrate environmental issues with urban development. I have seen first-hand how little it takes to make big improvements using sustainable eco-friendly practices that are affordable, lasting, and helpful to communities at large. This is how I anticipate making a contribution to society with my future career.

Work Cited

Lyons, Juliette, et al. "The Creative Utopia Located Within Psychiatric Hospital 'El Borda'.", The Bubble, Inc., 2 June 2016,
Date: October 15, 2017 Views: 598 File size: 21.2kb, 131.0kb : 539 x 960
Hours Volunteered: 300
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 12:
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 45:
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