This past Saturday, January 27th, all four cohorts of the GAFs visited the Pamunkey Indian reservation in central Virginia. We toured their museum, which displayed both ancient and recent pieces of “black ware” pottery, their beautiful beaded chieftain vests, and their impressive collection of arrowheads and spear points. After walking through the displays of their history, we wandered around the reservation with a guide, who showed us their fish hatchery, their old one-room schoolhouse, and their pottery-making location. As we wandered, we quizzed our guide about tribal life, learning that the children went to public school, that their holidays were similar to those outside of the reservation, and that 75 people lived on the reservation. Coming in with many preconceived notions about Pamunkey Indian lifestyle, we were surprised by the level of assimilation and normalcy that existed. They have a ruling tribal council that acts as the law of their land (one of whose members we were able to meet), which determines rules like land plot assignments. The Pamunkey tribe has just been federally recognized, acting almost like a separate nation that has a treaty with the U.S. government, and they may put their land in trust with the federal government so only federal police can enforce laws. Afterward our tour around the reservation, we took a detour to visit the alleged Powhatan gravesite and debriefed on our experiences of the day, discussing our views of the tribe and how they had deviated a bit from their ancient tribal ways, though temporary revivals have occurred and the stories and legends remain alive. For example, the tribal council member told us many stories about her mother and had personal connections with items in the museum. Finally, we finished off the day with a late lunch and a series of on-bus bonding exercises involving mind games and riddles, like the “Wombat Game” and the “Ball Game”.
On Friday, January 26th all of the Fellows programs participated in a day-long retreat designed to stimulate discussion between programs about some of today’s most pressing issues. In the morning the Global Affairs Fellows examined various cases of human rights violations, sparking many in depth conversations regarding the importance of human rights and the role of governments in enforcing these liberties. Later in the afternoon, all of the Fellows groups convened to watch a short video on the issue of climate change before splitting into separate discussion groups. Comprised of all ages and programs, these groups served to promote interaction between different viewpoints and broaden the views of both newer Fellows and seasoned members. After exchanging ideas and listening to the opinions of peers, the Fellows reassembled in the Massey building to end the day with a panel of climate change experts. The ensuing conversation encouraged everyone present to think more deeply about the issue of climate change in order to someday craft a sustainable and effective solution. As the retreat drew to an end the Fellows departed, having been invigorated by the exchange of ideas and the opportunity to learn more not only about climate change, but about themselves and their peers.
~Ainsleigh Montgomery (’20)
We walked into school bright and early Thursday morning, at 8:15 am. Mr. Wetmore, leader of the Chesapeake Bay Fellows and director of the BCGLP, greeted us and gave a brief summary of the day before us. After a brief leadership simulation, surviving the zombie apocalypse, we went through a case study of how ecotourism is affecting the civilians in the Pacific Region of Costa Rica. Our case presented a family and activist fighting both sides for the industrialization of the Costa Rican rainforest. We were tasked to come up with a resolution that would satisfy everyone and would benefit the family. We came up with a 5 year plan, which gave all the people time to relocate to the provided area, which gave them better opportunities. For the family who lived there, stayed and the 18 year-old girl stayed with them to satisfy the family’s traditional customs. She worked at the resort being installed right next to her house. The group of 21 realized the big effect ecotourism has and how it can impact a community and split it apart. Many countries need ecotourism because it is their main income. This does end up affecting families who live there as the resorts and other facilities keep expanding. In the end people will have to relocate and end up with some people not for ecotourism which is sustaining their country.
~ Sophie Watson (’21)