January 26, 2011

Info on Spring Break 2011 Environmental Brigade!

Here is the information about our upcoming trip to Panama this Spring Break (March 19-26, 2011)!

Applicants are encouraged to apply ASAP because spaces are filling, and program contributions will be due starting in early-mid February!

Contact us at ucsdgeb@globalbrigades.org to schedule a meeting and learn how you can get involved!

WHEN: March 19-26, 2011

WHERE: El Entradero, Cocle, Panama

WHAT: One week-long trip doing memorable environmental volunteer work, admiring the tropical surroundings, and experiencing with a whole new culture!

WHO: Anyone who is environment-loving, likes to travel, and genuinely wishes to make a significant impact in the world through helping others. People who only wish to have a vacation or spice up their resume need not apply. Students at the graduate level, from other colleges, alumni, and working professionals are also welcome. Spanish-speaking ability not required but highly helpful. A casual, conservation-style meeting will be conducted to screen applicants.

PROJECT: We will be working in the community of El Entradero, located about 2 hours out of Panama City, the capital of Panama. Over the course of the week, one or more of these three "deliverables" will be installed: Eco-Stoves (burns less wood), Slow Sand Water Filters and Eco-Latrines/Composting Latrines (improves sanitation while using simple, local materials). Our group will also spend time holding educational workshops for the community members to teach them conceptions of water & air pollution, deforestation, ecosystems, and climate change. See the project packet below or through this link: http://issuu.com/subtledream/docs/el_entradero

GROUP SIZE: 11-16. Spots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applicants will be welcomed until full or 30 days before departure (Feb 19)

PROGRAM CONTRIBUTION: Approximately $1500. Note: A $250 non-refundable deposit will be required at the time of application to secure your spot, due early February. Rest of program contribution is due approx 1 month before departure.

January 25, 2011

Immunizations & Visas for Panama


None of the vaccinations are required to enter Panama, but it is definitely recommended that you get covered ahead of time to greatly lessen your chances of catching something hazardous to your well-being. It wouldn't hurt to dig out your medical records now to see which shots you have already had, and which vaccinations you may want to add your collection.

If you are a UCSD student, regardless of coverage under the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), you will be able to get all the required shots and oral medication at the travel clinic at the Student Health Service (http://studenthealth.ucsd.edu/travelclinic.shtml), which is just west of the Bookstore. Those enrolled in SHIP simply have a discount. Of course, if you have a doctor outside school, he/she will be able to give you (or refer you to a travel nurse) the traveling advice, vaccinations, and medications you need.

Important: You should schedule an appointment with a doctor / travel nurse at Student Health Service at least a month before departure due to busy travel seasons and for certain vaccinations to kick into full effect.

Here is a list of recommended vaccinations to have for Panama (information taken from MDTravelHealth. The Central for Disease Control and Prevention also give very similar advice):
  • Hepatitis A - Recommended for all travelers.
  • Typhoid - Recommended for all travelers. (Oral vaccination available)
  • Yellow fever - Recommended for all travelers to the provinces of Darien, Kunayala (San Blas), and Panama, excluding the Canal Zone.
  • Hepatitis B - For travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially if visiting for more than 6 months.
  • Rabies - For travelers who may have direct contact with animals and may not have access to medical care.
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) - Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria - Revaccination recommended every 10 years.
  • Malaria: Malarone or Prophylaxis is recommended for rural areas in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Darien and San Blas. (Oral vaccination only)
Tourist Visas

If you are not a citizen of the U.S. (ex: international/exchange student), you may still be able to travel to Panama without applying for a tourist visa. Check this site: http://www.lawyers-abogados.net/en/Services/Immigration/panama-authorised-visa-requirements.htm to see if your country of citizenship would allow you to simply get the visa at the airport.

If your country of citizenship is not listed on the top list, you will have to apply for a tourist visa on your own. It should take about 6 weeks for approval & processing. This site has information on how to do so: http://www.learn4good.com/travel/panama_visa.htm#req and on the bottom of the page you'll find a link to the contact information of the Panamanian embassies.

November 30, 2010

June 2010 Environmental Brigade Photos & Video!

Much-delayed in posting these, but better late than never. The brigade report is being worked on and will be posted as soon as it is ready for viewing.

Enjoy!!! (Photos by Jonathan, and video by Lauren!)

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

The Kuna people will likely face the fate of becoming climate refugees... but can we assist them in making the necessary decisions early enough to avoid the devastating consequences in delayed action? Thankfully for them, there is elevated land not too far from their island homes.

Gallery with commentary: 

On a brighter note, here's an inspiring video from Greenpeace:

April 19, 2010

CPK Fundraiser!

CPK on Nobel Dr. (next to Islands, across from Whole Foods)
Monday April 19th
Anytime 11:00am - 10:00pm
Bring this flyer and 20% of your bill goes to our upcoming June trip :)

Link to flyer: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B2QuEpOQY2jzMTcxY2QyMzAtMzY5ZC00ODBmLWJiNjItYTEzN2FkMDIyNDU1&hl=en

April 14, 2010

Should the U.S. Burn or Bury Its Trash?

A relevant article on NYtimes about waste management. Perhaps we can get some insight for our own project in Kuna Yala?


March 29, 2010

Featured on Global Patriot & CalFinder

Mr. Mark Lovett from Global Patriot just published a post on our work in the December 2009 brigade:

And also on CalFinder:
"Volunteers from the University of California-San Diego are trading solar energy for a unique cultural and life experience, leaving an enduring, sustainable impact on communities in the developing world."

March 6, 2010

Principle Member Positions

Since most of the current cabinet has graduated or will be graduating in June, we are opening up essentially all the principal member (PM) positions starting in the Spring 2010 quarter. Not sure if you have what it takes to fulfill these roles? Be not worried  - our current PM's will assist & train you every step of the way in learning the procedures, processes, and skills necessary to run GEB like a well-oiled machine as we have done in the past several months.

The plan is to slowly transition you, the future leaders of GEB, into the roles that we play today. Let's pass the baton to continue the momentum in the upcoming months. There are eco-stoves to be built, land to be reforested, environmental refugees to be assisted, and gorgeous sceneries in Panama to be seen!!

  • learning valuable life skills such as time management, public speaking, networking (hint: lectures & labs don't teach you these things!)
  • networking with environmental professionals and potentially earning references for your future prospects (aka employers)
  • having that indescribable, elevated level of satisfaction in leading a group that will make truly make a positive impact in so many people’s lives
  • possibly discounted program fees
(Simple) required qualities:
  • Open Communication - Say what you do
  • Accountability - Do what you say
  • Genuine interest in bettering the environment, respect for all living organisms, and preservation of foreign cultures
The Positions

Prime Minister, aka the Overseeing Instigator
  • Holding meetings
  • Delegating necessary tasks and ensuring payment deadlines are met
  • Ensuring there is adequate communication among GB staff, PM's, as well as participating members
  • Meeting & interviewing prospective brigaders
    Vice President, aka Everyone's Friend
    • Assisting the Prime Minister in various tasks, such as meeting & interviewing prospective brigaders
    • Being the go-to (calling) person for all other PM's and regular members
    • Updating the website/blog and facebook group
      Public Relations Chair, aka the Articulate Promoter
      • "Crashing" relevant lecture halls & classroom to speak and write about GEB blurbs such as upcoming fundraisers & info sessions
      • Answering questions from prospective brigaders, and directing them to appropriate personals and/or information
      • Establishing contact with sustainability-minded groups on campus and departments (such as Environmental Systems) to spread the word on GEB
        Fundraising Chair, aka the Money Maker
        • Contacting local food and entertainment venues to create viable fundraisers for GEB
        • Sending out emails, creating facebook events, and inviting all members & other contacts to participate
        • Delegating responsibilities for flyering - because this party is more fun with more people!!
          Historian, aka the Fast-Typing Organizer
          • Booking rooms for group info sessions & other gatherings
          • Typing notes at meetings
          • Initiating important topics for discussion at meetings and presenting relevant information for pre-departure preparations such as educational materials
          If interested, please:

          First become accquainted with GEB by reading our formal report from past brigade: http://tinyurl.com/ye4eswg

          Then, email us at ucsdgeb@globalbrigades.org with the following information:
            1. Position(s) you wish to apply for
            2. Name, expected graduating year, current major & minor
            3. Clever methodologies in enjoying your free time
              • ex: baking goodies for others, planting trees, watching every episode of How I Met Your Mother, Facebooking, hiking & camping, attending live concerts, and stuff like that
            4. Relevant past/current experiences and skills for the position(s)
              • ex: member of other environmentally-minded clubs, any volunteer work, leadership or education roles, Spanish speaking ability, or special knowledge of, say, solar panels, in working with kids, composting, and so forth

              February 22, 2010

              December 2009 Environmental Brigade Report now published!

              We are proud to present to you our formal report of the very first environmental brigade at UCSD as well as at Global Brigades (GB). In working with GB, you can have the unique opportunity to not only travel to a foreign country to take on projects that have a direct impact on the quality of life of local communities, but also gain valuable hands-on experience not found in the classroom.

              Our team of student volunteers, aka "brigaders", consisted of 16 UCSD undergraduates and alumnus. The primary objective of our week-long project was to install a photovoltaic system and implement environmental education at a densely populated island in Kuna Yala of Panama, home to the indigenous Kuna people. The project was developed by GB's Environmental Brigades Coordinator, who has established a fruitful relationship with the Kuna Cultural Congress as well as various Panamanian environmental organizations that have contributed to the success of this brigade.

              We have worked on this report for many days and nights in the past several weeks, and although it is quite lengthy at 19 pages, it is also filled with memorable photographs from our wondrous trip. It should be noted that because the content was written by various people, the language style may differ from one section to the next.

              Please feel perfectly free to spread the word to potentially interested friends. Look for an update within a week on the development of the upcoming summer brigade and how YOU can get involved or perhaps help plan it as well!!

              - UCSD GEB team

              January 27, 2010

              Featured on Global Brigades' Blog!

              Anna, the Environmental Brigades coordinator, has written a post on Global Brigades' blog about our December trip! Read about it here:


              December 23, 2009

              Our First Brigade as Pixels & Words

              Our Picasa web albums link: http://picasaweb.google.com/ucsdgeb09

              A post-brigade report will be compiled and videos will follow in the coming weeks... stay tuned! For now, do enjoy the following blurb and a surplus of photographs of the countless memorable moments in beautiful Kuna Yala.
              Global Environmental Brigades at UC San Diego visited Panama for their very first brigade to assist the indigenous Kuna people install photovoltaic panels onto one of their main buildings where they hold congressional meetings. This project allows the Kunas to not rely on unsustainable power sources such as batteries or diesel-powered generators for their electricical needs, while at the same time significantly reducing the amount of toxic pollutants - such as lead, cadmium, carbon monoxide, etc. - released into their surroundings which pollute their food and water supplies. Our group also spent time introducing effects of climate change, water & nutrient cycle, and waste reduction to both the kids and adults.

              Even though the Kunas are traditionally known to be conservationalists who genuinely value the richness of their land, it is our goal and hope that the current as well as future generations will gain a fresh perspective of their natural environment and the imenient weather shifts through the educational activities that were implemented. And because we were not there as tourists but as brigaders who came onto their land with the priority of making culturally sensitive and sustainable positive change, the Kunas embraced us warmly with their open minds, hugely rich culture & traditions, and even a journey to a sacred area deep in the rainforest.

              If it was at all possible to summarize our privileged week of living alongside the Kunas in their spectacularly beautiful, essentially autonomous, region of the Kuna Yala - it was a time of immense cultural exchanges, spectacularly gorgeous sceneries, as well as hands-on learning experience in an environment that magically promotes awareness of natural systems and the anthropogenic responsibility in maintaining such delicate balance.
              Enjoy the slideshow below with some of our favorite moments:

              And a short slideshow of highlights from our trip... with a soundtrack! Made by Nikki.

              December 12, 2009

              Our Very First Brigade Begins Tomorrow!!

              We are flying into Panama City - tomorrow! SUPER EXCITED!

              - Jonathan

              November 9, 2009

              Winter Brigade Itinerary + Information on the Kuna people

              As a reference/model for future brigaders - here's the preliminary itinerary for our winter brigade.

              Here's some great background reading on about the Kunas and Kuna Yala, their semi-autonomous tribal region and the country's largest tract of rainforest.
              Also! An excellent video of Alan Duke from CNN exploring Panama's Kuna Yala rainforest with Earth Train's Nathan Gray and Lider Sucre of Panama's Biodiversity Museum.

              October 26, 2009

              Fundraising Events

              Raffle at Eco-Fashion Show w/ Alpha Phi Omega - Nov 7th, 7:30-9:30pm, $ from raffle ticket sales will go to us :)

              CPK - Nov 16th, 11am-10pm. FLYER: http://www.tinyurl.com/geb2009cpk

              BJ's - Nov 23rd, 11am-11pm. FLYER: http://www.tinyurl.com/geb2009bjs

              Rubio's - Nov 30th, 2pm-8pm. FLYER: http://www.tinyurl.com/geb2009rubios

              October 23, 2009

              Other Students' Experience

              These photos from UCSD Global Business Brigades' trip to Kuna Yala in June will definitely give you guys a better idea of what our trip will be like - especially if we are going to the same place to install solar panels for the Kuna people!

              Below is a clip of a brigader giving a short testimonial of Public Health brigades in Honduras:

              September 24, 2009

              Potential Projects in Panama!

              **As of Oct 25th, 2009** - our group is currently voting for the project to take on for winter break, and Project 1 & Project 2 are in the lead. Final result will be decided by Sept 29th. Future brigades could be continuing the project which we will be starting.

              Project 1

              Working with Planting Empowerment (plantingempowerment.com) to build a native plants nursery/greenhouse in Arimae, Darien Provence, which will help with reforestation efforts in the region
              More details: http://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AX7PNalTi7_EZGZiYmtwMnBfODdkNGg4OHBmcQ&hl

              Project 2
              Installing solar panels for the indigenous Kuna people in Nusatupu, which is an island in the Kuna Yala comarca
              More details: http://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AX7PNalTi7_EZGZiYmtwMnBfMTM2ZmRnYzdxY2g&hl

              Project 3
              Building an eco-stove & compost toilet alongside ANAM (the Panamanian government's environmental arm: anam.gob.pa/joomla) in Finca las Acacias, a cooperative farm of ~29 arces in Burunga in the district of Arraijan
              More details: http://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AX7PNalTi7_EZGZiYmtwMnBfMTIxZms3emt2aGg&hl

              Project 4
              Implementating a waste management plan in Buenos Aires, near the border of Chiriquí and Veraguas provinces for a community of mixed latino and Ngobe/Bugle people
              More details: http://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AX7PNalTi7_EZGZiYmtwMnBfMTA0Z3ZuN3RxZ3M&hl

              July 10, 2009

              News from Panama!

              I just got an email from Anna, who is the in-country coordinator for GEB. She has recently arrived in Panama and have already found a number of viable, sustainability-related projects to take on with local groups such as alternative energy generation and trail-building for ecotourism.

              Exciting stuff! There will be more good news to follow :)

              June 12, 2009

              My Experience & Photos from Public Health Brigade in Honduras

              My first experience with Global Brigades was in March of 2009 - during my Spring break. I traveled with a group of about 70 UCSD students to Honduras, where we were organized into 4 groups responsible for different projects - medical, dental, public health, and water. I was with the public health group, and our tasks included building a water-storage unit called the pila at an assigned household, as well as educating both the children and adults the importance of personal hygiene in preventing contagious and water/air-borne diseases. The households which received our aid were determined by in-country coordinators who interviewed the family based on their needs. Our large group stayed at a stylish (I want to say late 19th century Spanish style) and clean facility called El Rapico, and was joined by fellow brigaders from Northwestern as well as Oregon State. The accommodations and food were far beyond what I had expected coming into one of the poorest Central American countries. The staff treated and fed us extremely well.

              The village we worked at is called Los Pajarillos, and each day (for 5 days) we took a what must have been a leaf spring suspension-equipped minivan (for all the car geeks out there, you know this is bad news...) to travel about an hour 15 minutes on mostly dirt and rocky roads passing through small towns, sugar crane fields and factories, boys and men with machetes, starving dogs, and cowboys on bicycles. It's an uncomfortable ride, but this vastly different and intriguing world transforms your sore butt and back into part of the experience. As you will discover in the photos, our group of 3+1 (students + local staff) finished the beautiful, and hopefully not leaky, pila on the 4th day. We spent time during lunch and after work on most days feeding & playing with the children at the village. Everyone in the village was very open to our presence even though most of us didn't speak Spanish. The kids absolutely loved us and their smiles were simply genuine and unforgettable. On the last day at Los Pajarillos, our group formulated an education lesson for both the children and adults to teach them about the existence of germs & bacteria and how to minimize the intake and spread of these disease-causing micro organisms. Remember, this is completely revolutionary to them!

              I understand this was not an environmental brigade, but believe that through these pictures the value and format of our adventures could convey how a week spent helping people you have never met before can be so valuable and unforgettable. My hope and belief is that our trip this coming December will be just as amazing!!

              Part 1

              Part 2

              Photos by yours truly.