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NOAH GOLDFARB

Peru’s tropical rainforest will prove a home base for Hollison High School students in summer 2013 as they collect environmental data for Operation Wallacea (OpWall).

Dr. Poland, a representative of the English-based program Operation Wallacea, came to Holliston High School on Monday, April 30th to give students and parents an idea of what his program is all about.

“We do long term biodiversity monitoring in 11 different countries. We need high school students to collect data for conservation management programs,” said Poland.

“The destination for the trip is the Samaria River in the Amazon,” said Mrs. Sylvia Bodmer, Holliston’s lead organizer for the trip.

Any freshman or sophomore student has the opportunity to go on this trip, as long as they can pay the $1,650 tuition fee. The airfare will be an additional expense, and can be up to $900 round trip.

Health and safety is a major concern of the leaders of OpWall, who realize that safety is a major worry for parents and children alike.

When asked about the safety measures on the trip, Poland said that “We have had a few emergencies, but we do have full medivac available.” During the meeting he presented the detailed safety measures that are taken on all expeditions.

Prateek Gowda, a sophomore at Hollison High School, attended the informational meeting on Monday and expressed his interest in the trip. Part of his desire to go on the trip is his plans to have a career in science.

“I want to go into medicine or biochemistry,” said Gowda, “something to do with biology.” He felt that this trip would be beneficial towards that goal.

Lauren Hurley, the mother of a sophomore who is interested in the expedition said that she hopes that her daughter Abby gets some “educational experiences” from the trip, including experience “traveling to foreign places and getting cultural exposure.”

She does support her daughter’s interest in the trip but has some hesitations regarding the safety aspects of the travel and the destination.

At the meeting on April 30th, a parent expressed concern about the legitimacy of the trip, mainly the fact that it is not specifically supported or accredited by the United States. Although the trip is supported by the English government many parents the lack of approval from the American government was concerning to some parents.

Operation Wallacea has similar programs in 11 different countries, including Indonesia, Cuba, Madagascar, Honduras, and Mozambique. They do have an Egyptian program, but due to the unstable state of the country, students no longer go there. American students don’t travel to Cuba, based on the restrictions from both countries which make this extremely difficult, said Poland.

Mrs. Bodmer said that three of the factors that will encourage students to go on the trip are the “Adventure, opportunity, and learning.”

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