By Mike Servedio and Carolyn Belardo
It’s a whirlwind of a week for the students in the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences program who are hosting four Mongolian teenagers with whom they are studying climate change. After corresponding through the Internet and social media since the fall, the Philadelphia and Mongolian teenagers finally met in person a few days ago.
After joyful hugs and energized get-to-know-you games they got down to work, but the fun kind of work. WINS Director Betsy Payne and Vice President for Education Dr. Jacquie Genovesi plotted a schedule for the 11-day visit that’s chock full of adventure, discovery and learning.
The high school students in Mongolia’s ROOTS program, similar to WINS, are touring the Academy from top to bottom, including behind the scenes in the research collection; meeting with Academy scientists studying climate change in Mongolia; eating cheesesteaks and pizza; cooking s’mores over a campfire at the Delaware Aquatic Resource Education Center in Smyrna, after hiking and examining the biodiversity of the marsh; visiting Independence Hall and Reading Terminal Market, and more.
The field trips are sandwiched with lessons and activities designed to get the students thinking and talking about how climate change is affecting where the live.
The Mongolian teens’ trip is part of their involvement in the Museums Connect program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State. Administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Museums Connect pairs museums in the U.S. with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together through community projects that address important topics, such as women’s empowerment and environmental protection, among others.
In July, five WINS students will visit Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, where nomadic herders are moving in large numbers as climate change and other issues challenge their traditional way of life. It’s bound to be a whirlwind trip.
Photos courtesy of the USA State Department, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs: https://www.flickr.com/photos/exchangesphotos/with/16734865428/