While sharing my fantastic experience, I often get the question “ So what did you teach them, how did you help them?” to which I simply answer, ”Nothing, they taught me all”.
I would love to show you a three-month long video, so you could appreciate everything I learned, unfortunately that’s not so cool for youtube. So I can tell you a few things that stand out:
Let’s talk about interaction with nature.
There are so many fantastic elements that our “modern” societies have lost through time (and of course many others that we have gained). But to the luck of us moderns, there are a few old-fashioned societies that still maintain our lost attributes. For instance, the Mahafaly tribe, with whom I lived in Madagascar, maintains a close relationship with nature. And it is this close relationship that allows the Mahafaly to appreciate nature from a very different, yet special perspective. This I learned thanks to my good lfriend Rivo, who would explain to me the use of many plants and trees in our way to work, from medicines to aphrodisiacs, you name it! He loved nature, but most importantly he knew nature. Rivo does not know much about science, what he knows, he knows it by tradition, experience, and most importantly by necessity. But don’t be fooled, we are as dependent on nature as Rivo is. The only difference is that Rivo interacts with nature directly, and more often, thus he has a better view of the vital signs of nature, upon which we ALL depend.
Bottom line: know nature, its good for you!
The sun’s sky is the limit!
There are many things that we all can do, if we really put our heart to it. No, you are not readying a copy of your high school graduation ceremony, this is serious, and I lived it. I became so closely related to the Mahafaly culture that I felt responsible for making things happen. Plus, I did fly across the planet, so I HAD to do the most out of the opportunity. In a nutshell here is what I did:
Sweet stuff huh?
- Helped organize several cool festivities including World Water Day and Earth Hour
- Launched an international cooperation agreement between Ejeda, Madagascar, and Toluca, Mexico. It was ratified in Madagascar, and now in process to be ratified in Mexico!
- There is way too many Zebus in Madagascar, so with the support of the Mayor of Ejeda “Ramalaza” I came up with a tax system that fosters the sustainable management of the Zebu population (academic paper in progress)
- With the help of my good Mahafaly friend Hery, we created the first written dictionary Mahafaly dialect-English! (Give me a shout, and I’ll send you a copy)
- Helped organize the reforestation of a huge sacred forest
- Made awesome friends from around the World
So think you can also make a difference and have fun? Here is what you do:
Relax; take a deep breath, inflating your stomach as much possible, now release air slowly. Imagine a million things that could go wrong in a harsh unknown environment, and then foresee that the trade off will be unimaginably higher. If you are willing to take this risk, and you are determined to do your ultimate best, go to the nearest bathroom and spray you face with cold water, then say out loud "I am READY", and start your application today!