Tuesday 9 February 2010
M.E.S college ponnani
Couple of weeks back, we got a phone call from a local college telling that they are organising a 'National Seminar on Responsible tourism', an event supported by University Grants Commission. It seems one of the speakers had suggested TBY name telling that Responsible tourism in Kerala was triggered by what we initiated based on River Nila fiver years back and will be able to give insights from a practitioners point of view.
The event till evening was a jumboorie of academic reading, reports tracing the RT movements across the world. Though well-attended, we were not really sure how much of this was of any use to the students attending the seminar. Till the last moment we were not sure what we should talk about or what angle of the business we should introduce them to. Especially since our sessions fell after a heavy lunch, we had to ensure the we showed them something that ensured students weren't falling asleep.
We spoke in Malayalam, which I guess helped to connect well with the crowd while rest of speakers all spoke in English, we told the background of how TBY was formed, and what we learnt in five years. We ran about 80 slides of pictures taken from less than 30 square kilometres of that college, and surprisingly there were far less than a quarter of the audience who knew what we were sharing. Almost all of them hadn't seen the cultural heritage of the region. However, when asked how many of them have planted at least one sapling in their entire life, there were quite many. Though when asked about the number of saplings that they have seen survived after the planting, as in many similar situations, the hands went down. Not surprisingly.
When we shared the details of our partnership with Palliative Care movement in Kerala linking nature conservation with rural health programs, almost every one had heard about palliative care clinics functioning in rural Malabar region. It took more than 5 years for us to stand in front of local boys and girls to show case and share what we have been doing so far. However, I have to admit that irrespective of all the conferences, seminars and trade shows The Blue Yonder attended across the world, this was the most fruitful, satisfying experience. To stand in-front of an audience of enthusiastic students, and talk to them in our colloquial language about approaches we have taken to find solutions to local issues through responsible tourism, felt so good.
The result of the 90-minute engagement was there to see by end of the day as the college principal invited us to his office to say how glad he was knowing about The Blue Yonder and how his institution is willing to keep apart one acre of land within the 26-acre campus for the traveller's forest! Though the practicalities of this partnership has to be worked out in detail, we hope this model will help our region regenerate at least some of its bio-diversity.
If only 10% of our school and college management decides to follow M.E.S Ponnani college, Kerala would be a better place to live in and visit!