Story written by senior Olivia Stoetzer. This trip was a part of the Stevens Global Leadership Program, which offers The Priory students engaging and challenging learning experiences beyond their immediate environment that affect peace.
In June, Catherine Mount, Hypatia Pine and I traveled to Hyderabad, India to represent The Priory at the Student Global Leadership Institute at Oakridge International School on the topic of conservation. For two weeks, 35 students came together from all over the world to learn more about the conservation of the environment, wildlife and culture, along with various conservation efforts that have been executed with optimistic results across India.
The trip began with more than 30 hours of travel. We went from Honolulu to Tokyo, to New Delhi, and then on to Hyderabad. We stayed at the Hyatt Hyderabad Hotel within the business district. Hyderabad has transformed into the technology city of India, much like Silicon Valley in the United States. All around us was the construction of large skyscrapers and business parks, bordering the older and more historic parts of the city. Upon our arrival, we met with groups from North Carolina, London and across India. We quickly exchanged questions, stories and learned much about each other.
For the next 10 days, we spent our time at Oakridge International School, Hyderabad. We heard from countless conservation speakers and took field trips to neighboring sites to see these efforts in person.
We particularly enjoyed the presentation from Farmizen, an organization and app that works to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers. Wherever you are in the world, farming is not necessarily a reliable source of income. Many times, farmers need to make pivotal and often risky investments to make money. India's farmers were struggling with making a living wage and those who buy these products didn't know where their food was coming from, or if it was organic.
The Farmizen app works as a subscription service. The consumer chooses a plot of land and what crops they would like the farmer to grow. In return, the farmer is paid a reliable and profitable wage. The user knows that they have fresh, organic food and even has the opportunity to do their own harvesting. A refrigerated truck delivers produce weekly. Though they are only promised a couple of pounds, consumers usually receive around 20 pounds of fresh produce each week.
Following the presentation, we visited a farm on the edge of the city, where we had the chance to plant our own produce. This was just one of many creative solutions that are changing the way we think about food production and consumption. The company has had many pleas and offers to expand all over the world.
Seeing the world through a different lens
We also looked at the conservation of culture. We went on cultural walks throughout the old city where we had the chance to enter Hindu temples, mosques, churches, museums, artisan shops, and other exhibits. We experienced the mix of traditional and modern Indian culture. We watched the process of bangle making and visited a perfumerie that has been open and family-run for hundreds of years. As we visited these sights, we learned even more from our friends from India who gave their own stories and experiences. Getting to know other people from all over the world was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip, and we still keep in contact today.
Affecting change at home
Currently, we're working to carry out or own conservation project throughout St. Andrew's. We've recognized that there are already so many different non-governmental organizations
working to combat climate change, while also encouraging more sustainable practices. We would like to bring these organizations to our school to talk about their work, and then create a conservation challenge. This challenge would illustrate just how easy more sustainable practices can be to implement. We look forward to working towards a more sustainable school and sharing all we learned in India.