Saint Martin’s faculty lead students in national EcoChallenge

Abigail Fuentes, Staff Writer

The Northwest Earth Institute has integrated with EcoChallenge to help students discover new ways to make change more possible and powerful. The organization helps students stay connected in between session meetings and expand their network with others participating in the course.

Professor Irina Gendelman and teacher’s assistant Francisca Anunobi, started the EcoChallenge with their COR100 class while using a text called “Seeing Systems” that is published by the Northwest Earth Institute. The book connects the dots between Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, and allows students to think about the bigger picture of living in a community and on the planet.

First-year Saint Martin’s students were required to complete 10 hours of community service and were given the opportunity to do projects with non-profit organizations. The EcoChallenge allows students to think creatively and also do projects remotely. 

The competition is to complete as many projects as possible to gain points while competing against other schools and workplaces. There are many options that are given as projects. For example, students can organize a screening of an educational documentary film, hold a panel discussion or start a campus-wide campaign to use reusable water bottles.

The challenge at Saint Martin’s is a good way to observe the power of individuals when working together as a community. It is also important for students to be educated about the topics of Peace, Justice, and Sustainability in a holistic way as they become leaders in their communities. “I was personally in Dr. Gendelman’s class last year, and I really enjoyed reading Seeing Systems with my peers,” Anunobi said.

She hoped that students would have the same fun and excitement as students from previous years did. Anunobi explained that when Gendelman introduced her to the challenge, it felt like the perfect way to find connection between the topics they learn about in class and the relevance beyond the course.

“My favorite part about the EcoChallenge was finding ways to help our community virtually,” COR100 student, Anelle Alvarez-Cervantes said.

Alvarez-Cervantes participated in the challenge by writing letters to our Representatives and by participating in the mini challenges like “complementing ten people” or “picking up trash.”

Gendelman will continue the EcoChallenge with students who take the course next semester. For more information, go to https://ecochallenge.org/about/ .

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