What can school students learn during a week aboard a research vessel? This year our Changemaker Champions, a group of young people from Bellver International College, boarded the mighty Toftevaag together with their teacher Maria-José to find that out! They recently came back to shore, and needless to say, we wanted to know everything about their trip so we interviewed Maria-José! Read all about it below.
The Bio-Bellver team won the Changemakers At Sea competition after they implemented creative projects to get their whole school involved in the reduction of over 11,500 single use plastic water bottles every year, and also took individual action to raise awareness, reduce plastic waste generation and help fundraise for marine regeneration projects. Now they are back from their trip aboard Toftevaag, having sailed the Balearic Sea and collected scientific data on marine animals and plastic pollution.
On board the research vessel
During the voyage, the Bio-Bellver team enjoyed a great mix of savvy crew, including experienced Captain and researcher Ricardo Sagarminaga, to look after them, teach them all about how marine research on the boat is conducted and explain the different dangers and delights found in the big blue. The students became part of the sailing vessel’s crew and research team. They helped with all aspects of the work aboard, from sailing, cooking and cleaning to taking photo ID of cetaceans, surveying sea birds, sampling the surface water for micro plastic and much more.
Interview with teacher Maria-José
– Was the trip what you expected?
– Well, we knew it would be something extraordinary but we went without expectations because we didn’t really know what we were getting into.
– What was the best part of your trip?
– That’s a really difficult question to answer because there were so many amazing moments! On board you enter a completely new environment surrounded by water. You are constantly interacting with the same people and you see the direct effects of your actions. We really got to form part of the sea, and we got to know each other in a far more meaningful way.
I think the best part was that we gave importance to something so scarce and beautiful, which is the sea and all the wonderful creatures above and below. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. As a teacher I think that it’s fundamental that we transmit this magic to the children in our care.
We have to be able to feel and immerse ourselves in the moment. Maybe an idea for new education programmes couldbe to educatethe teacherson another level, a practicalone, because it starts with us, the teachers. That’s the future.”
– What do you think the students will take away from this experience?
– Respect. I think they are going to be much more respectful. They gained basic life skills: Knowing how to say sorry, when to recognise they are wrong, what a working day is and that not every day is a success. Accepting this and looking for the positives. They learnt that success comes from hard work and that that is life.
– Did you see a change in the students’ attitude by the end?
– Yes, definitely. They faced their fears! Sleeping aboard a drifting boat was a big one and doing night watches too, but they managed! Another fear was the shower situation … there is none! By the end everyone was quite happy being smelly pirates though! I think they will look at water use in a different way, perhaps “appreciation” is the word. A piece in them has shifted and made room for all kinds of awareness.
– Did anything shock you?
– The reaction of the dolphins! They directly approached the boat and began jumping, dancing and it felt like they were being so generous towards us, putting on an amazing show! Pure happiness! There were two groups that we saw and it was just perfection.
– Do you have something else you’d like to say?
This experience changed me. You can tell that the crew love their jobs and this is really contagious too for the students to see. It’s great for them to learn that there are jobs out there that don’t just fill your bank account, but rather, fulfil you.
Captain Ric also had a few words to say about the journey; “All A’s! Awesome kids, Amazing teacher, Adventures to remember!”
Well there you have it. A week well spent, learning, growing and making lasting memories together. Thank you so much Bio-Bellver for being part of Generation Save The Med!
Save The Med Foundation
(Previously / Antes Asociación Ondine)