Students Get into a Growth Mindset in the Amazon
A group of students from Skyline High School in Sammamish, Washington just returned from Earthwatch's Amazon Riverboat expedition with a lot of memories. Gretel von Bargen, the advanced-level biology teacher who led the group, shared her wrap-up and a few of her student’s words with us.
Students measure a piranha. © Gretel von Bargen
It’s hard to believe that only a month ago we were returning from our adventure in the Peruvian Amazon. Now that we're back into the routine of life in the United States, it feels like the expedition to Peru was just a dream (except for the mosquito bites to which I am still tending). I think I can speak for all travelers when I say that we really had the trip of a lifetime. I want to thank the parents, guardians, businesses and students who worked hard to finance our expedition. I know the financial cost can be great, but I have no doubt that the knowledge gained and conservation efforts funded are well worth the expense.
Students visit a Cocoma tribe school in Peru.
© Gretel von Bargen
For me, the best memory of the trip is watching my students develop skills, self-reliance and friendships over our ten days together. Each student went to Peru with different levels of understanding and abilities related to conservation field work. I loved watching the confidence in my students’ blossom over the week. Each student faced their own personal challenges (for example: sickness, physical limitations, mosquitoes) with a “growth mindset.” In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. I am proud of the students for facing their challenges head on and viewing them as opportunities for learning and personal development.
Each night we were in Peru, we all wrote short reflections on our experiences for the day. Here are a few of the highlights:
I also very much enjoyed the cultural connections the trip afforded. Students experienced a community in which personal connections, rather than possessions, were most valued.
Gretel von Bargen