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Introduction

Dear Reader,

I’m setting up this blog on behalf of home Rotary District, 7230, to keep you informed of my endeavors in England. I’ve been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Larchmont, nestled in my own hometown, to pursue an MA in International Education and Development at the University of Sussex, where I am looking at children’s role in Madagascar’s conservation and development. I first received my BSc from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where I studied Elementary (Primary) Education & Environmental Studies.

My interest in Madagascar began in early 2007 when I took a course with Dr. Christina Grassi, where I learned of the extreme dichotomy of Madagascar’s Conservation and Culture. I immediately became immersed in the intensely important and wondrous world of Madagascar, and thus set off to study abroad in the rainforest of Ranomafana. There, I discovered that Madagascar’s “ecological suicide” was in no way a choice, but a destiny prescribed by a failing education system, a lack of resources to create social change, and the most loving people who wait with hope that someone will care.

Read on about that here: Opportunity for a Future

Since then, I have been working with various constituents in Madagascar, the global research community, and children’s education specialists to conceptualize the creation of park-based programs. Here, I am rooting these studies in a historical analysis, to inform new developments. It also doesn’t hurt that Brighton is the base for Dr. Alison Jolly, one of Madagascar’s most influential forces for conservation, development and education.

But above all, I’m a teacher. I just left the best job I’ve ever had as an afterschool art teacher, where I watched my students “recreate their world” every day. We began by redesigning the art room, the curriculum, painting the walls with murals and chalkboard, and letting that serve as a workshop to the rest of the program. I watched as they began to value their own ideas, and use that creativity to put together beautiful events, design a garden, care about one another, and sew the seeds for a whole new program. Nothing could ever beat watching your children discover that they can create the world they want to live in. And every teacher deserves to see that. Especially those in Madagascar who taught me what it means to really care about your students’ future. Hopefully this scholarship will allow me to share with those teachers some tools for helping children create a healthier, more caring, more hopeful, and more sustainable future.

Feel free to share input and comment. Your thoughts are seriously welcome.

Happy Reading,
Daniella

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