Summer in Farmington – The Climate Crisis: Environmental Justice

Friday, July 7, 2023

Author: Director of Porter’s Center for Global Leadership, Sophie Paris

We are preparing to welcome our Summer in Farmington middle school and high school girls tomorrow (international students) and Sunday. We are super excited to meet all the campers and welcome them to our Miss Porter’s School campus!

In the week ahead, we have many fun, challenging, engaging, hands-on learning activities planned for our participants of The Climate Crisis: Environmental Justice, whether it be designing and building a prototype in our Innovation Lab, visiting the United Nations in NYC, white water rafting, camping, learning from activists and speakers or engaging in a leadership workshop. Summer in Farmington participants will build their confidence, connect with each other, and expand their vision and understanding of the world around them in our inclusive and supportive environment. 

We invite you to follow along via this blog over the next week, from July 9-14th, as we share camper and staff reflections, pictures and videos. Stay tuned for more content to come!

Summer in Farmington counselors working on a team building activity
Summer in Farmington counselors working on a team building activity

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Student Authors: Keilah, Dearing, and Olivia

We began our day by checking in between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. after arriving in Farmington. Some of us came from afar, and others came from closer by. Some of us crossed national borders, and some of us only needed to drive for a brief period of time. Before arriving at our dorms, we received our credentials (key cards) to enter our rooms.

We set up our rooms and then went on a campus tour. Our first stop was the library, and we introduced ourselves and played games like guessing the famous woman we were assigned. Then we went to the fountain and played zip-zap-zop, next, we went into the theater, art, and science buildings. It was time to eat, so we went into the dining hall and ate chicken pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit pudding and cookies! Once we were done eating, we made friendship bracelets.

After dinner, we went to our dorms and had a meeting with everyone. We broke off into small groups by floor and had dorm meetings to establish rules. We had a practice fire alarm procedure. Now we have some free time until 10:00 p.m. At 10:00 p.m., the counselors check on us to make sure we are sleeping.

We are excited about our first full day tomorrow!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Student Authors: Mahanur, Eliza, and Lina 

From Lina: ​​It was really interesting to hear from a state representative about climate change, especially how climate change and poverty were connected. We also roasted s’mores by the bonfire, and I loved getting to know everyone. I was really tired at the end of the day, but the beds are really comfortable. We also went to Starbucks and the gas station where we got drinks and snacks for the following days. 

From Eliza: On Monday, July 11th, we woke up at 7:45 to get ready for the day then at 8:20 a.m., we all gathered in the common room to head over to breakfast. Once at the dining hall for breakfast, we waited our turn at our tables until we were called to go up to get our breakfast which was pancakes, potatoes, and the options of bagels, cereal, or yogurt as well. After Breakfast, we headed down to our classroom in the library to meet CT State Rep Anne Hughes, who would be speaking to us about her job and bills that were and weren’t passed in the House and Senate this year, and what environmental racism is. It was cool to hear from a woman who represents the people of Connecticut. After that we went out to Brooks Field to do an ice-breaker which was 1 truth 1 lie, and then they took us up to the dining hall again to get a snack. Then we came back down to the Library and Maren gave us a presentation on the UN to prepare. 

From Mahanur: After our guest speaker, we were given an introduction to the UN to help us get ready for our trip the next day. To learn more about the UN’s goals on sustainability and climate change, we worked on collaborative projects to learn about their commitments to change the world. Our projects were worked on in groups of 3, and we later all presented our projects so that we could learn about their work. After, we were given an introduction to the Climate Crisis and given more background as to what climate change really is and how it affects us. We were also introduced to a new challenge by choice project, that we chose to work on by ourselves or with up to 2 people. After, we had time to have fun and have dinner. We also decorated cookies, played games, and then finally went to bed! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Student Authors: Nora, Sarah, and Lily 

Today we woke up at 5:45 a.m. to prepare for our trip to the United Nations. We had a long bus ride and breakfast, including a bagel, mandarin, orange juice, and a granola bar. 

When we first got there, we had a tour of the building, showing its awesome parts like the General Assembly building. Later, we saw the gifts given to the UN by other countries. We got inside a press brief addressing today’s global issues centering on Syria’s cross-border humanitarian aid struggles, as the UN failed to agree to continue authorization in a security council meeting earlier today. We learned how the journalists and the spokesperson for the secretary general communicated for the journalist to get their unbiased scoop on the story. The bus ride back was long as everyone wanted to get around and was tired. We stopped at a rest stop for food. Nora and I got Panera, and others got McDonald’s, Chipotle, etc. We got home close to 8:00 p.m. and finished the day off by watching a movie (the Parent Trap)  and hanging out in our dorm rooms. 

Thanks for listening!

Summer in Farmington students at the UN in New York City

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Student Authors: Lilly and Ralaina 

From Lilly: UN Reflection

On the bus ride to the UN, it was fun to play games with different neighboring seat groups, but everybody was still waking up until we got to New York. Maren pointed out different landmarks as we made our way through Manhattan. Security went by surprisingly fast, and although it seemed that the UN building had few windows from the outside, the interior design inside was an amalgamation of various cultural architectural styles, and it was awesome. Our tour guide was gracious and clear in explaining each site–I really enjoyed seeing the different conference rooms and gifts from various countries (the tapestry that symbolized Chernobyl was especially intricate). 

There are 150 resident journalists given free offices in the United Nations and daily press conferences at 9:30 a.m. (that are exclusive to housed journalists); our program was given the opportunity to sit-in on a conference that was open to the public. As a student journalist, seeing competitive journalism in-person around global topics was really interesting. 

While I didn’t get a chance to mail myself a postcard from ‘international territory,’ I did notice that purchasing products from the gift shop and bookstore had no sales tax! The bus ride back was long, but it went by faster than the ride there (a friend and I read our copies of “The Climate Book” by Greta Thunberg and annotated them together). 

From Ralaina: After having such a long day at the United Nations but such a breathtaking experience, we finally got our day started and went straight to an outstanding breakfast. The chefs have been really hard working to put effort into this food, and I just want to thank them so much for that.

Then, we all went to the conference room and did our UN debrief activity; we did this game called “Rose, Bud, Thorn“ where all of us said what we loved about the UN, what we hated, and what we are all looking forward to in the next days of camp. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s opinion about the UN experience. Then our guest speaker came for the day; her name is  Dr. Mary Buchanan, Community Resilience Planner, CT Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA).

She really introduced us to so many different new topics about environmental justice and how to use mapping tools and all sorts of different populations. What was really enjoyable was this website she introduced us to called Connecticut Environmental Justice Mapping Tool, which was entertaining. Furthermore, we all went to get early lunch to go to the beach. Once we got there,  it was really crowded, but we still got our task done, which was to measure the impact of a 1-meter rise in sea level on the shape of the coastline. It was confusing at first, but my group got the hang of it and succeeded.

After, we all got to spend time in the water. Time passed, so we all returned to campus and ate dinner, which was really good for the second time in a row! They served us tacos, churros, and so much more, which had such a delightful taste. Then, we all got ready and went mini-golfing, which was an amazing experience. Getting into groups and bonding with each other was just so wholesome and was such a great time, but it got really competitive and frustrating at some points, but you get the hang of it after a while.

After that, we went to the supermarket and got our favorite kind of ice cream and headed back to campus, and started to all get ready for bed. Overall, today was such an impactful and, with such great experiences to learn new things and have a blast while doing them.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Student Authors: Uché, Emma, Jasmine, Cindy, and Mandy 

From Uché: Hey, I’m Uché, and I am currently a camper attending the MPS PCGL camp. On Wednesday, we had the opportunity of having Dr. Mary Buchanan, Community Resilience Planner from CT Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), talk to us about sustainability and the effects of pollution on the environment. We were also taught how to research and analyze data about how pollution affects the environment in different states. After that, we went to the beach to collect data on the changes in sea level rise to check how much of an effect it would have on the beach if the sea level rose. To conclude our day, we had an amazing time playing mini golf and eating ice cream.  

From Emma: Yesterday, we did several fun things and activities! First, we listened to a speaker from CIRCA who showed us a program that could demonstrate climates impact vs. socioeconomic status, health, etc., in each part of Connecticut. We connected patterns between them, and it was interesting to see how closely related different issues are. Later, after lunch, we went to Hammonasset Beach. Before we swam and relaxed, we did an activity that showed us how much a 1-meter sea level rise would affect the beach. Afterward, we had a great time talking and swimming together. Back at Porter’s, we did a quick turnaround, had dinner, and then went to mini golf. I had never been to that course before, so it was fun to try something new! Finally, we got ice cream from the grocery and headed back to our dorms. Overall it was a great day!

From Jasmine: Today we’ve been to a garbage dump to see how our food wastes can be turned into power to keep the world healthy. The strange odor of the dump made me feel like a dump, too, and I almost threw up. However, the situation became much better as we proceeded to go on a mini hike and had a picnic. My friends and I played poker cards and had a lot of fun. In the afternoon, we went to Blue Earth Composting, and I learned many things. After we returned to campus, I went swimming and played kickball after dinner. I loved it, and it was so fun.

From Cindy: Today is the fourth day of our camp. We went to the Quantum Biopower this morning and discovered how the state’s waste is processed and turned into energy. What was shocking is how much package waste is produced every day. The guide took us to see the de-packaging facility and the waste digester called the bioreactor. It was fun to get to know the whole complicated process, even though the trash was really stinky. We went on a picnic for lunch and explored the barn for about an hour and a half. After lunch, we went to see the Blue Earth Compost, a collaborator with the Quantum on processing trash. We learned about compost and how it’s vital to the environment and climate. To sum up, it was really a pungent trip, but we learned a lot of meaningful knowledge, and it was the experience of seeing the whole process that mattered.

Friday, July 14, 2023

By:  Director of Porter’s Center for Global Leadership, Sophie Paris 

Our Summer in Farmington Climate Crisis program participants had a great day! They could sleep in for the first time this week, followed by a delicious breakfast in the dining hall. After fueling up for their last full day of camp, they worked individually or in small groups on their Challenge by Choice Projects and their final presentations before building and testing their own solar ovens in the afternoon.

The Challenge by Choice project allows our participants to apply their learning from this week. Tasked with composing a project that addresses both the climate crisis and how they can use their knowledge and activism to inform and inspire others on the issue, campers had the choice to design a Zine, a Public Service Announcement, or a podcast.

Their projects analyze the following questions:

  • How does climate change impact our lives, locally, nationally, and globally? 
  • How can you use your voice for good in helping to solve the global climate crisis? 
  • How does climate change affect nations around the world differently? 
  • In what ways is climate change interconnected with other global issues, such as hunger, inequality, and more? 
  • How can we empower local, national, and global leaders to begin to take action against climate change? 

After finishing their final projects and eating lunch, the group moved to Brooks Field to build solar ovens out of pizza boxes, skewers, tin foil, tape, and cardboard. Unfortunately, it was overcast, so they moved inside to one of our science classrooms to fire up their ovens under the UV lights, which worked! It was certainly a great experiment in understanding more about solar energy, heat, absorption, and insulation. The project also highlighted using renewable and alternative energy sources.

After dinner, our amazing Summer in Farmington counselors and campers participated in a super fun talent show. We are excited to hear from each camper and to see their final projects tomorrow morning!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

By:  Director of Porter’s Center for Global Leadership, Sophie Paris

It’s always hard to say goodbye to our campers. This morning students woke up early to set up their final project presentations and to practice them before their families arrived. We kicked off the final presentations around 9:30 am. It was such a joy for all of us to watch these young people leverage the knowledge they acquired and their experiences from this week to inform and inspire others about how to address various aspects of the climate crisis, including homelessness, alternative energy, composting, and sea level rise among other issues.

After the presentations, everyone migrated back to their dorms and their families. They were teary goodbyes and exchanging of phone numbers and contact information. We are confident that new friendships and connections were forged while growing intellectually and look forward to seeing how the campers will go forth and make meaningful changes in their respective communities! We wish everyone a wonderful rest of summer and can’t wait to see them again!

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