We’ve been meaning to update you on our trip…. so here we are!

We all miss Greece, but are so glad to be back among our friends and family!

The above photo was taken right before we got on the ferry in Kalamos. It took us about 4 days to get home, spending 2 nights in Athens on the way back again where we shopped for gifts for friends and family, met up with Sophia’s aunt, and also some other friends of both she and Tabitha. We had the lovely opportunity to enjoy some street performers and then a coffee shop concert with Greek folk musicians.  We also spent a night in London where we stayed at a newer, hip hotel called the Moxy and went out to an authentic London pub .

Our final days in Kalamos were spent finishing up our work. Riley created a database of locations and attributes of historic location of corals, fish populations, property ownership and other things we learned about through the participatory mapping session with a local man. Tabitha finished georeferencing a total of 40 historic images from the British School in Athens which are now a resource for Terra Sylvestris for future work. Wesley completed additional drone flights, some involving sailing to the nearby Echinades Islands with a volunteer that would start after we left. Sophia directed us through finishing all these tasks and how to finish the trip and our work strong, as well as providing more guidance for the travels home. Throughout all of the trip we enjoyed trying local cuisine, namely souvlaki which is very similar to a gyro, as well as authentic olive oil and bread and the many local bakeries. We also enjoyed some time at the beach in the final days to soak up the sun just a bit more.

We’ll finish this post with a final statement from everyone so that we can each share what our highlights were, what we learned, or anything else we feel is worth sharing:

Wesley: This trip was an incredible opportunity for me. I am very grateful that I got to work with Ted who is so driven and knowledgeable about environmental conservation. It is cool to see how people on the other side of the planet deal with environmental issues and their attitudes towards them. I learned so much about environmental issues that I probably otherwise would not have, as well flying drones and their applications for research. It was also great to learn about Greek culture. I think we had a great team for the trip with the diversity in backgrounds and all our different contributions to the work. Big shout out to Sophia for organizing so much of this trip.

Tabitha: As a Coloradoan, there have been no other times in my life when I have had the opportunity to perform my work 2 feet from a hammock while overlooking the sea and I am so grateful for this opportunity to have done so. From the moment I learned about this experience, I knew that I wanted to be part of it and I have had no regrets. My professional experience and confidence has grown so much as a result of having performed research, developed an IRB protocol and traveled to and experienced the place for which we were performing our work. It felt important to see the community that our work could impact and to hear the stories of the locals who experienced the devastating effects of the decline of life in the Ionian Sea. Working in Kalamos, I understood that people care and that they need people like me to care as well. I was glad that I had skills that could be of service and I would gladly do more work like this in the future.

Riley: Participating in this project reaffirmed that the human dimension of natural resource issues is not only an important dimension but a dimension I enjoy exploring. Participatory GIS was the perfect tool to bridge the social/ environmental issues and I am overwhelmed with the fact that we were able to pull this project off. Of course, the ocean views, delicious food, and perfect team also made it an unforgettable adventure.

Sophia: Creating opportunities for students is what we love to do at the Centroid, and I’m so pleased we were able to provide such a unique one this summer for our three fearless students: Riley, Tabitha, and Wes. What a great team they made! This inaugural international initiative (alliteration fully intended) proved to be all we had hoped: a bit of adventure, a healthy dose of learning, diverse geospatial contributions towards conservation efforts of a small NGO, ample good food, and a couple good dives into the crystal clear Ionian Sea. Logistically, the trip went very smoothly (until the very last leg of the trip with an unexpected overnight in Dallas for some), which bodes well for future trips. In the coming months, we’ll provide more details of this trip and the work we did, and in the meantime we’ll begin to think about future international opportunities for Centroid interns!

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