Outcomes of our Visit to the UK
A lot of people have been asking me how our week in the UK went, and I suppose having had time to digest the week’s events a little, it is time to reveal some of the grander plans and aspirations for the project.
We are still very, very young as a project, and though we are small and new, we do have high hopes, and hope that you will all continue to support us as we go into the future, no matter how crazy or ridiculous or grand our thoughts seem right now.
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but probably one of the most exciting thing to come out of the week, was this tip from Jo at Education through Epeditions about this online programme called Prezi. It is exactly what we have been waiting for, as our project has a lot of components and isn’t easy to sum up or to present, especially when you have meetings with important people and need to get everything across in a quick and easy on the eye manner. Prezi allows us to do just that, and though I’ve only had a quick bash at it, and have just about got the hang of the basic stuff, I hope that our efforts are better than a 40 page document of boring old words.
You can see my initial offerings here: the first is about the inspiration behind the Oceans Project, my student Ani, of whom I am amazingly proud:
My second prezi attempt was an overview of the whole project, a little bit easier on the eye than my other attempts at putting something together I hope!
First Things First
So, the plan is for me to step down as Facilitator for the current project which runs every Saturday, and this has been handed over the other 6 Leaders, who are doing a splendid job and really excelled whilst I was away in London. I will obviously still be at the sessions, but the step away, allows me to overview things rather than be in the centre of things, and its easier for me to make any changes and to visualise the whole of the session rather than running it. This also frees me up to focus on where the energy is needed most now, the sponsorship and publicity side, as we need to raise a lot of money now to take the project forward and to reach as many young people as possible. The day to day running takes up a lot of time, and its important that we can have time and energy to do things and to do them well, especially as we are young and are constantly learning and making adjustments.
We have two new sessions to start up now, one for a University and one for another local School, so those will begin shortly, now that we have a longer term plan and goals and objectives identified. These new sessions will begin in January. We are also moving into a proper office, which is definitely long overdue!
Land Rover Project
If all goes to plan, then in May 2012, myself and four others (plus a guest) will be headed to London to undertake Land Rover remote driver and first Aid training. And also to take some of the best Georgian wines to the International Wine and Spirit Fair in London (I’m an avid wine snob, and am sick and tired of people not having tried Georgian wine, or having had poor quality Georgian wine!). So I hope to select the best of Georgian wines and to introduce them to some of the big wine buyers especially in the UK. If you are a wine producer or know of a wine producer, or have a favourite Georgian wine that will represent Georgia, then please get in touch, and if it meets the needs then we will take it to the UK free of charge and see if we can get you a buyer for it.
We then plan to drive to the North of England and into Scotland running workshops about Georgia, about the environment, and about the Oceans at any school that would like us to visit them. This workshop will be free of charge, although I will be giving a questionnaire as part of my PhD into environmental attitudes of young people. If your school participates then we hope to add you to a website where you can talk to children from all around the world, and if you wish, you can come up with a mini research project and upload regular data on a particular topic. That could be about the weather, about the kind of insects you see in your school playground, or a count of plastic pollution, or a camera trap of local mice or birds.
From Scotland, we will take the ferry to the Shetland Isles and Orkney Isles, visiting schools and doing the same thing again. And then need to find ourselves free passage on a cargo ship or similar to Norway, and drive through Sweden, and Finland, visiting schools the entire time. Next we need to find a ferry to take us to Estonia, and we will travel south, through Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Black Sea country of Ukraine.
From the Ukraine, we need to take a ferry across the Black Sea, collecting plastic samples in a trawler net on route to Batumi in Georgia.
The second phase of the expedition will see us attempting to visit every school across Georgia, offering free workshops, installing wireless internet, and getting the children communicating with the other children we met on the way via the website, where they can also upload data on their research project.
At each school we visit, we will be launching an Oceans Project Georgia competition, and the winners of each will receive a fully funded place on our Batumi summer camp in 2013, provided that we are able to gain sponsorship for that. At the summer camp, we hope to offer the best students the chance to participate in an Earthwatch expedition the following summer in 2014. The Oceans Ambassadors from our current course will be volunteer as Assistant Leaders on the summer camp, in both 2012 and 2013. We will have a summer camp running in Batumi at the same time, for any young person who wishes to participate, and staff will swap between the Land Rover Go Beyond journey and the summer camp, so that everyone has the opportunity to get involved in outreach work across all of Georgia.
At the end of the summer camp, the Land Rover team, will set off again, back to the UK. Continuing to visit schools and run workshops on the journey. From Georgia we will head to Azerbijan, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France, and then by ferry or Eurotunnel into London in October where we will leave our Land Rover behind.
If you work at a school, or know of a school who would be happy for us to visit on our journey then please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org and if you can help us in any way at all, then we would also love to hear from you. Please also contact us if you would like children from your school or NGO to participate in our summer camp in Batumi in 2012 and we will then send you details as soon as we can, and can add you to a mailing list. The summer camp will be an intensive 3 week version of the Oceans Project and you will also get your BSAC Snorkel Diver Certification, chance to practice English, and to work with our Guests in Residence, visit the Dolphinarium, and a chance to go on expedition with Earthwatch if we can secure funding.
UK Registered Charitable Status, and NGO Status
The most important thing for the Oceans Project is for us to become a charity and NGO. In order to do this, we need an initial income of £5000 this year. Once we have this status, we can apply for bigger funds, which we can then use longer term. We already have a constitution, and probably need a UK base too, but need to look into this further.
We are also looking for a not too expensive accountant in Georgia, if anyone happens to know one or would like to sponsor one for us!
Summer camp will be an intensive 3 week version of the Oceans Project that we already running here in Tbilisi, and will include daily research activities, summer camp fun and friendships, and snorkel training, plus the chance to win a place on an Earthwatch expedition. We already have a premises lined up on the Black Sea coast. Prices are still being determined, and will depend on funding available. We will run four summer camps over the summer, with native English speakers, so it will also be a chance to develop confidence in English.
Longer Term: Fisherman Project
We hope to run workshops with local fishermen in the future. We need to find out about their relationship with the Black Sea, what changes they have observed, if any, and about their day to day experiences and stories of being a fisherman. We hope to work with the fisherman longer term, to help them in their business, and to find ways of resolving any issues they may be having. One issue may be cetacean bi-catch as dolphin may be after the same fish as the fishermen, and one option may be to trial the use of ‘pingers’ attached to their fishing nets to deter the dolphins away from the net and thus reducing damage to fishing nets and death to the dolphins. We may also be able to offer life saving and first aid skills, and snorkel certification, or English lessons, or marine biology short courses.
Longer Term: Tbilisi Street Children
We hope to offer a programme designed for street children in Tbilisi in the future. Many of the young people we have met are very smart, but have either fled problems at home or have chosen to live a life on the streets. There are already many facilities available for them in Tbilisi but they do not always wish to access them for whatever reason. Longer term, we would like to start a programme for street children, building up from 1 hour a week, to perhaps a summer camp, trying to engage them in activities such as snorkelling or film making, and learning about the environment. We need to apply for separate sponsorship for this, and will be looking for volunteers willing to help on this project.
longer Term: Disabled and Disadvantaged Children
Disability in Georgia, is sadly still somewhat taboo, and one of the longer term goals of the project is to provide our project to EVERY young person in Georgia. We would really like to offer a summer camp at some point to cater for Georgia’s disabled or disadvantaged children, perhaps inviting physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists to join us and to see if they have any solutions to some of the everyday problems faced by this particular group of young people. We will also be looking for volunteers to work with us on this project and will need to apply for sponsorship.
Longer Term: Orphanage and Refugee Settlement Programme
Longer term, we would like to run a summer camp just for young people who are orphans and another for Refugees, so that they can get together and share experiences and benefit from the project, perhaps making contact with other orphanages or Refugee Camps that we have met on our Land Rover Go Beyond journey.
If funding allows, we would also like to sponsor a young person to attend our private school, and would like to offer mentorship to the best of our young people to help them develop their full potential, particularly in terms of learning English or in study skills which they are unable to get private tuition in, as their peers do. We hope that the young people on our current project will also offer to become mentors longer term, especially those who are also orphans and refugees and understand the extra challenges faced by young people in their position.
Shorter Term Goals that Will Make Life Better for us
The plan now is really to raise funds so that we can do everything possible to make the Oceans Project the best it can be. This is the time consuming element and will be the main focus of my work for the next few months, probably even longer.
For the current group, we need to find a sponsor to pay for their Earthwatch expeditions, which Earthwatch are also working on.
We also need to raise money to buy bits of equipment that will help us to meet our goals. We need to raise £1600 to pay for our Snorkel Diver training for 6 of the Leaders, and it would be fantastic to buy photography equipment, videos, and laptops for editing films we make.
We want to be able to employ 8 members of staff on a permanent basis as everyone is voluntary at present, and juggling jobs, and we also wish to provide them with health insurance, and a mobile phone.
I plan to approach Apple in the hopes of getting some ipads donated in kind, as these would be fantastic for expedition and for visiting schools across Georgia who don’t have electricity or internet. I’d also like to get some magtis donated so we can have internet when we are working in the field in Georgia, and some waterproof jackets donated for the leaders, as well as sweatshirts or fleece jackets that our Oceans Ambassadors could wear, and which feature our sponsors.
I would especially like to get some professional camera equipment that could be used by one Oceans Ambassador in particular, who is profoundly deaf, but amazing and passionate about photography. He has already won several competitions, but doesn’t have his own camera, and I know this is the one thing in the world that would make him smile even more than he does already. I’d like to approach one of the big professional DSLR companies with a view to getting him a camera that he can use to document the project week by week and for his expedition, as he wishes to got to Spain to work with dolphins and a big part of this research is to photograph dolphin and whale fins so that they can be identified. As part of the film project, he will also be taking photos whilst on set.
I would really like to be able to give each team leader a budget, so that they can purchase materials that would help them with their particular focus of the course. For Alex, that is personal development and team building games, and ropes and bungee cords will help with this. For our two scientists wishing to get the Ambassadors involved in data collection, some simple science kit is a must.
We also need to buy some snorkels and masks once we have completed our snorkel diver certification so that we can put the Ambassadors through their training, and we need to find funds for their Duke of Edinburgh International Award Packs. Plus we need a good first Aid kit, and a medic to come to Georgia to give them all the vaccinations they need to go on their expeditions with Earthwatch, plus we have to find funds to get them passports and visas, so its going to be a hectic time ahead!!!!
The CGP Style Workbook
The Team Leaders and Oceans Ambassadors are already hard at work, putting together the Oceans Project Workbook, which we hope BBC Education and Amazon will sell around the world, in tandem with the BBC Oceans DVD and BBC Planet Earth DVD.
Writing up the workbook will take some time, but once published, can be used either alongside or in lieue of internet access, so that any country or school or NGO around the world can run the Oceans Project, even if infrastructure or funds are limited. Those who have internet access can tap into the website, have discussions about the topics on a forum, and watch videos and interviews with people from the series and guests, and enter competitions to win places on Earthwatch expeditions.
‘For the Love of the Oceans’ Book
This is an artsy, coffee-table style book all about people’s memories of the sea and oceans. It will contain doodles, photos, stories, jokes, poems, quotations about people’s memories of the sea. We are in the process of collecting these, and hope to publish this book in time for Christmas next year. We are collecting items from anyone who wishes to participate, including celebrities, your granny, children from the schools we visit, Oceans Ambassadors, Ministry Officials, pretty much anyone, so if you wish to contribute then send your item to email@example.com and please pass the word around, especially to any big names, who will help us to raise the profile of Oceans Project Georgia, of the Oceans, and to raise money for the project through sales of the book. Sponsors of any aspect of Oceans Project, will get their logo featured in the workbook and ‘For the Love of the Oceans’ book if they so wish, as well as on our sponsored jackets, on the website, and any published materials.
National Geographic, and Media Stuff
We now have a little section on the National Geographic Website: http://natgeoadventure.tv/uk/User.aspx?userId=22136
and an interview with us will come out on the Earthwatch website and magazine in January: http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/newsroom/enewsletter/enewsletter-october-2011/
We will also be featured on the Education through Expeditions Website, and I will be one of the ETE Education Ambassadors, so make sure you follow us on there, and please encourage any schools you know to take advantage of ETE’s brilliant schools package. We will be making some Oceans worksheets for ETE soon, and will let you know as soon as our page is up and running: http://www.etelive.org/
We are always more than happy to be interviewed about our project, so please just let us know.
So, I think that is enough new information for now, I can’t reveal all of our secrets in one go, all you need to know is that we are very active and busy right now, and looking forward to a great future.
Don’t forget to check out our new look webpage, and you can meet each of our Ambassadors on there too: http://www.oceansproject.com
and don’t forget to follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/OceansProject
or facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oceans-Project-Georgia/233653316691866