Beta Zeta Nu Students Host Special Event Featuring Woarani Environmental Activist Edenega Cahuiya

Wed, 11 May, 2022 at 1:54 pm



                                                          Photo: Edenega “Huiya” Cahuiya

This semester members of the Cañada PTK Chapter, Beta Zeta Nu (BZN), have been working on an international service project with Edenega “Huiya” Cahuiya. Huiya is the young chief of the Waorani people, an indigenous community living in the Yasuní bioreserve, which is located in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. He and his community are fighting against the oil extraction, deforestation and illegal hunting that are destroying the ecosystem of their home. The chapter has translated and produced informational videos recorded by Huiya in the rainforest near his home. On May 6, the chapter planned a special event (HyFlex - in person and virtually) that featured Huiya as the guest speaker. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Huiya was unable to attend the event though the students shared his message through a prerecorded video. In his place they interviewed Jaral “Fernando” Vaca. Fernando is a ecotourism guide and naturalist who has worked with the Waorani people in the Amazon and in in other environmentally threatened regions throughout Ecuador. Fernando joined us in a zoom webinar during which BZN students interviewed him about his environmental work and his ideas on how to get young people (both in Ecuador and the US) involved in the environmental movement.

After the interview Professor Alison Field led a discussion entitled: Our relationship to the land and the people -- the role of indigenous knowledge, expertise and leadership in sustainability and climate action efforts. There were many ideas generated during the discussion including the possibility of creating a nature trail around the perimeter of campus so that students and the community could enjoy a closer relationship to the amazing beauty that is found here. Additionally, Professor Mahoney led a discussion focused on the big picture of habitat destruction with a focus on climate change (though not exclusively through that lens). And also what we can do to support efforts in Ecuador, the greater Amazon basin and what specific actions we can take in our communities. Discussion naturally led to encouraging students, faculty and staff to become involved in the District’s first Climate Action Planning process.

The event was a first for Cañada College in that during the webinar BZN officers Diana Castro and Anthony Leon Chumputazi interviewed Fernando in Spanish while a professional translator provided simultaneous translation to English speaking participants in a second room. Pulling off a major event like this is never simple. Under the leadership of chapter officer Giovanna Mancinelli, the team learned about event planning and collaboration.. During the meeting student officer Sheridan Stewart and PTK advisor/Cañada alum Katherine Ramirez took questions in English and translated them into Spanish and then shared them with the students who were interviewing the speaker in a google doc. The result was a presentation in which questions and answers flowed naturally. The students look forward to continued interaction with Huiya and Fernando as they build this finish up this community service project.



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