Eco-tourism delivers

With some regret we ended the eco-tourism simulation game on Thursday. It was certainly not going badly, quite the opposite. The children were taking hold of it and calling each other during the week to share ideas and make preparations. We could probably have done with one more week.

When we met this week the eco-tourism specialists explained to the village members that the positions advertised had not all been filled, so there would be quite a bit of building and developing going on, but there would also be a little bit of profit left to be shared. Just about the whole village was involved in some way in the day to day running of the tourism project this round. Only two people were farming full time and one part time. One of these farmers had chosen to continue to farm in hope of high prices for her crops, which would then get her out of debt. She was not disappointed.

One of the main topics of discussion at the village meeting was cottage industry. Many people wished to supplement their income by making things and selling them. Lemonade, pottery, rainforest trail mix and woven placemats were all suggested and the potter expressed interest in running the project. Had we continued, everyone may have left farming and worked with the eco-tourism project in some way.

We discussed our initial goals of meeting the village members financial and social needs and halting the clearing of primary rainforest. Everyone could see that, although in four rounds the rainforest had not become too depleted, if people had continued to farm in the same way they would have needed to clear more land. Sharing the wealth was also a topic we touched on, if the project had continued to grow and prosper, what would everyone have done with their new found wealth?

It would have been interesting to see the children develop more ideas for the project but I am very pleased with what we did achieve. Covering economics, ecology, geography, communications, math, and group problem solving with eleven enthusiastic children has been very encouraging for a first unit. The main reason we have stopped is that most of the group went to Romeo and Juliet on Friday, so next week we begin a Shakespeare unit.

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