Voices for the World
The struggles to build democracy, make a living in a quickly changing
area and preserve the environment come together when
WorldTeach Develops Tools for a Peaceful
Revolution in Chiapas:
Locals role-play preparing for a growing industry. Photo courtesy
of World Teach
Recently, a small group of WorldTeach volunteers left for the Chiapas region of Mexico
to participate in a unique and groundbreaking project co-sponsored by the RARE Center
for Tropical Conservation and WorldTeach.
While WorldTeach typically sends its volunteers to teach English in classrooms in
Africa, Asia and Latin America, there are no classrooms where these four volunteers
are headed. Instead, they will teach and live outdoors for 3 months with fifteen
local nature guide trainees and a staff biologist as part of an effort to provide
local adults with the language skills and natural history knowledge necessary for
becoming nature tourism guides and environmental educators. The Nature Guide Training
Program, as it is known, is designed to directly involve local communities in the
developing world in the creation of a sustainable nature tourism industry while at
the same time protecting sensitive ecological areas.
"These nature guide training courses represent a novel merging of strengths
of two small NGOs, ending up with one of the more innovative alliances in the conservation
world, " said Brett Jenks, president of the RARE Center.
For the first several weeks, WorldTeach volunteers will themselves be trained, after
which they will develop and implement an entire English-language curriculum and workbook
specifically for nature guides, including tape-recorded dialogues, and a series of
lesson plans combining English, natural history, and interpretation.
The volunteers will then spend three months together with their trainees often
in remote training sites in different parts of the country. After "graduation",
the volunteers are assigned to visit the newly-minted guides in their home communities,
helping them in the very first applications of their new skills.
WorldTeach volunteers will be serving as nature guide trainers in Honduras, Guatemala,
and the Baja and Yucatan peninsulas of Mexico in the coming year. In the future,
volunteers may also have an opportunity to serve in Asia and Africa, as the RARE
Center plans to expand the project to sites in Indonesia and South Africa as funding
Center for International Development, Harvard University
79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Las Dias de Los Muertos en Chiapas
Photography © 2000 Cisco
See West By Northwest's article, Las Dias de Los Muertos
in the Northwest