BMHS Pride Time Reporter
NORWALK- Early Friday morning, ten students from Brien McMahon’s Center for Global Studies embarked on a ten day eco-tour to Rwanda to experience the small East African country from an environmental perspective.
“They [Rwandans] model excellence in so many different ways, and it’s so different from how we live. I think for our kids to be able to get to go there and see it will really be something to think about forever,” said Mrs. Fortuna, the trip’s organizer and a World Literature teacher at CGS.
Twenty years after a devastating genocide, this small country has managed to rebuild its communities and develop a sustainable model for harmonious relations between the people and both their human and ecological neighbour. This was Mrs. Fortuna’s inspiration to create the tour for her students after exploring Rwanda’s incredible developments first hand last year. The highlight of this years trip, a tour through Volcanoes National Park, home to the rare Silverback mountain gorillas, is quintessential of the proactive approach that the people of Rwanda have taken to preserve their country’s ecology.
In 2004, Edwin Saburhoro, a Rwandan conservationist, caught wind of a gorilla poaching scheme in the park. Posing as a buyer for the baby gorilla, he rescued the poached animal and sent its captors to prison. During their sentence, he reached out to the poachers and their families, and discovered they poached precious animals because of their financial instability and desperation. Sabuhoro realized the issue would continue as long as the people lived in poverty, so he created a company that employs villagers to lead tourists into Volcanoes National Park called Rwanda Eco-Tours.
“He sent a lot of them to school and now his very best conservationists used to be poachers,” recalled Mrs. Fortuna. This time accompanied by her students, the McMahon group will be guided through the mountains to observe the Silverback gorillas.
In addition to Saburhoro’s efforts, the students will get to experience life in a country that has national initiatives protecting the environment: no goats can roam free, no smoking of beehives near the forest, strict plastic regulations, and numerous other regulations.
Mrs. Fortuna hopes her students exposure to Rwanda’s developments will encourage them to bring back new perspectives to Norwalk. “I want to look at their environmental sustainability and apply it back home,” said Maddy Gordon (‘18).