ORT students reflect on Panama Ecology Summer School experience


Can you imagine spending 12 days experiencing the natural beauty of Central America, surrounded by captivating species of plants and animals?

An international group of ORT students didn’t have to imagine it, because they took full advantage of the opportunity to take part in the World ORT Ecology Summer School in Panama last week.

The exciting trip saw 26 students from six countries unite in learning together.

The program focused on studying the ecosystems of Panama, learning about its ecology and the impact of human activity. Students formed research teams based on their interests and worked closely together to investigate the biology of many different species including Lianas (climbing vines found in the rainforest), Lion ants and fireflies.

Students worked hard on projects in the rainforest

Learning skills for life

Sol Pradás, a student from ORT Argentina, said: “It is impossible to describe everything that I have learned, but having to choose a topic to investigate, carry out an investigation and drawing conclusions about it has given me many tools that will be very useful in the future, with whatever I do.

But Sol credits the experience with teaching her about more than just Ecology: “Summer school taught us how to find a way to cope with challenging aspects of life that we may face. It is very important that we all become aware of what is happening on our planet – it is 100 per cent our responsibility to act in order to improve the climate change situation. We need to improve and to live better, for our benefit and for those who will come after us.”

Tatiana Londono from ORT’s most recently-affiliated school, Colegio Colombo Hebreo in Colombia, said: “We moved from asking questions while walking around, to writing a scientific report in under two weeks – something that would not have been possible if I were just sitting in my house.”

Sharing knowledge unites us

Students Valeria Hirsch and Hannah Levy from Panama

Aside from the invaluable learning experience, the ORT students were grateful to have made lifelong friendships through working in teams and sharing their knowledge.

Tatiana explained: “From the first day I felt like I had known the other participants for a lifetime, I was very touched by the coexistence in the house. The friendships I made on this trip have been incredible and I will never forget them.”

Maria Sol Feres, an ORT student from Argentina, added: “I have deeply enjoyed connecting with so many people from different places, where all of us had the same goals: Conservation and Ecology.”

Valeria Hirsch, a student at the ORT-affiliated Colegio Isaac Rabin in Panama, summed up the students’ general thoughts on the trip. She said: “The World ORT Ecology Summer School has been one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I got the opportunity to meet new incredible people from different countries and we all got along really well.”

Read more about the possible impact of climate change on our planet here.