Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
23 DEC 2016
On Friday night, 23 Dec, I was outside in a beautiful garden, under a crystal clear, and very very cold, Rajasthani sky giving a program to 100 villagers and students with a Bisnoi botanist and Guruji translating my words into Hindi. I clearly remeber thinking of the words of Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz - “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”
I believe in global environmental education … and I am here to tell you, it works. I began with “Southern Nevada Student Photography,” a 5-minute multimedia program compiled of images taken by students in southern Nevada while on field trips to Red Rock Canyon, Desert Refuge, and Lake Mead. The audience loved them and gave our U.S. kids a great round of applause.
Next up was a much anticipated 5-minute clip I made from photos the Rajasthani students took on our field trip to Karmlai Pond. It was the first time they had seen the photos they had taken. There was a huge round of applause for the home town kids, and as I had them stand, applause continued and increased in volume.
The next 5-minute presentation was of my own photographs that I have taken during my stay at the ashram. There was much talking, generous applause and discussion, as the more unusual images made it on screen. They were so kind with their applause, and I loved that they were so engaged.
Afterwards I was told that one person said, “I have never seen all those birds around here.” That statement demonstrates the power of environmental education. By taking people out and asking them to really look at their surroundings, in this case using the activity of bird watching and photography, they expand their ability to see. Then by teaching them about the environment it then gives a framework to categorize and a logical structure to help recall and appreciate what they have seen. The person that said "I have never seen those birds around here" didn't lie, he just hadn’t seen them. In reality those birds had been all around him many times, but had been bind to the bird’s presence as well as their subtle beauty and intricate differences. He had not been taught to see them.
Now that we opened eyes of our program audience to the wild beauty and diversity of the region with the first three short multimedia programs, the final program of the evening was a PowerPoint discussion about the local environmental challenges facing Panchla village. We posed the question: “How do we save the beauty and diversity of this place?” The discussion touched lightly on air, water, and soil pollution but expanded upon the growing problem of noise pollution. However, that is fodder for another blog post on another day.
It was a very good night.
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
Made possible through
the generosity of
Generous support and inspiration provided by
Shri Jasnath Asan