Day 11: June 25, 2013

day11

Jet lag kicked in today. London is five hours ahead of D.C. time, where we all had been prior to this week, and eight ahead of Arizona. Needless to say, sleeping has quickly became overrated, and caffeine has become all of our best friends.

This morning we braved the Tube again to get to our first speaker of the day. We got off at the same stop we did yesterday, where the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are, but today we walked a little further down the road and were treated to an incredible view of Westminster Abbey.

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It was so, so beautiful; it absolutely took my breath away. I can only imagine what it’s like on the inside. (Actually, I do know what it’s like on the inside, since I was one of those people that happily and eagerly watched the royal wedding a few years ago. By the way, Prince William and Kate’s baby is due very, very soon. How amazing would it be to be here in London the day the royal heir to the throne is born??) I’m going to spend this weekend actually going inside the Abbey but for today, that incredible view was enough.

We got a lot of free time this afternoon before we were expected to be at our headquarters for our last speaker, so I and a few others got some food from a little family-owned shop where the waiter called us all “sweetheart” every time he spoke to us. He was so, so nice! Everyone in London is, really.

We took our food to one of the several beautiful parks in London to eat on the grass.

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Afterwards we went to the British Museum – the oldest museum in the entire world! It was absolutely incredible. I wandered in with some of the group not knowing what to expect, and I walked away having seen the Rosetta Stone, ancient Greek sculptures and structures, books from the Enlightenment period, Mexican and native peoples’ weavings and baskets, and stunningly beautiful Egyptian mummies – including Cleopatra’s!!

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The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone

Cleopatra's mummy!

Cleopatra’s mummy!

We all headed back to our headquarters where we met with a man who came to talk to us about the Red Cross. Let me tell you, this guy was my favorite of all of the speakers we’ve gotten to meet with so far. He split us all up into pairs, gave each of us eight beans, three dice (two white and one green), and a cup, and we all played a game that was meant to teach us about the complexity of knowing how, if, and when to respond to disasters a country is affected by. Basically, the beans represented our available resources, the cup represented forecasting abilities, and the dice represented the probability of a flood or some other disaster coming and destroying our country.

For the game, each pair had to roll the green dice within the cup and keep it underneath it so we wouldn’t see what the number was. We then separately had to roll our respective white dice, but before we did, we had to choose whether or not to stand up and pay a bean upfront in order to “buy” supplies that would prevent a possible disaster. Some of us bid a few of our beans for a plastic, clear cup so we would able to see the number and know whether or not we needed the protection that would cost one bean. In the end, if both dice added up to 10 or above, we had a flood. If we had stood up to pay for the preventative supplies by giving up one of our eight beans, we were safe. If we hadn’t, we had to pay four beans. Those groups that ran out of beans and still had to pay were given a red pebble which represented a major crisis that they needed assistance with.

I loved the game. Not only was it a fun break from our constant listening and taking notes during speakers’ presentations, it put a lot into perspective for me. I hadn’t thought about the different variables that go into deciding whether or not to invest in preventative supplies for an upcoming disaster or the fact that there is never going to be a perfect situation. Either you prepare for a disaster and it doesn’t come and someone is angry at you for spending valuable resources, or you run out of resources to prepare at all and a disaster strikes, and everyone is in trouble. There are other situations, too, such as the variable of political corruption coming into play so that the money raised to finance preventative tactics not going to their destination at all.

The game got me thinking about ways to teach children about sustainability. Kids learn through playing and by adults making things interesting for them. That’s certainly how I learn, anyway. I think this game opened my eyes to the world of possibility I have if I choose to make a career out of educating our future world leaders about problems that are very real and that need solutions. I asked our speaker if he had used the game with schoolchildren, and not only did he say yes, he had, he said that the children seemed to respond more effectively to the game and ask more intelligent questions than adults!

I’m excited to brainstorm a bit tonight about fun lesson plans I could potentially use in the future. I’m still absolutely loving the idea of working for the Center For Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. I love what they do and I would love to be a part of it. Since I have to do a capstone project in order to graduate, I’m wondering if I can talk the School of Sustainability’s internship coordinator and the USGBC Arizona chapter into letting me intern with them for a semester.

Tomorrow we get the morning to explore on our own before we need to meet up for our meetings (and, apparently, a fun night of drinking and silent disco in a science museum!). Honestly, I think I’m going to sleep in and walk around just a little bit and not do anything too crazy. I’m still really tired, and I want to save my energy for Saturday and Sunday! I still have to plan out when exactly I’m doing each event, but this weekend before I leave, I want to go to the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. I can’t wait!

Walking around town:

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