A is for anxiety
It’s hard to believe that in a week I’ll be leaving for Belize to work with a community on the small island of Tobacco Caye. I have a Center for the Blue Economy fellowship with the Tobacco Caye Marine Station. I’ll be working with my fellow MIIS colleague Anja on the public perception of MPAs.
What’s an MPA you ask? Well, a Marine Protected Area is a protected area where restrictions have been placed on human activities in the interest of conserving the natural environment. The creation and enforcement of an MPA in Monterey, CA is providing safe haven for dozens of threatened and endangered species, protecting biodiversity, and preventing overfishing in the region.
If you step off the tiny island of Tobacco Caye, you immediately find yourself on an incredible strip of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful coral reef system attracts thousands of divers every year, is home to a wide range of sea life, and provides the country of Belize with vital protection from storms.
Our goal is to work with the community of Tobacco Caye to develop a sustainability plan for the island that addresses its unique environmental and economic challenges. It goes back to the Big Question always on my mind: How do we meet human needs now and preserve the environment for future generations?
Islands are really fascinating for me. Last semester, I was part of a class that researched and visited Lopez Island (located off the coast of Washington state) to collect baseline data and propose a sustainability plan across various systems (agriculture, water, waste, electricity, and transportation). It was an incredible, and at times incredibly challenging, experience. There were 12 of us and we had 4 months. This time around there will be 3 of us and we have 6 weeks. This plus the additional challenges of working in a different country has me, well, to be perfectly honest, a little anxious.
But, anxiousness is part of my nature. As much as I try to fight the neurotic New Yorker part of me, I must admit: I love the anxiety. It keeps me on my toes. It makes me feel alive. I’m going to be in a beautiful new place meeting interesting people. I know that I will learn a lot from the experience and I hope that I will be able to help in some way for the short time that I’m there.