La Paz Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust (TRGT) partner in a year long cultural and scientific exchange made possible by the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Last summer, after geolocatorresearch discovered that regional birds migrated between Chattanooga and the Petén region in Guatemala, two team members from each organization traveled to Petén, Guatemala. There theymet with locals and began an educational and cultural program between two communities connecting students, researchers, educators, and bird enthusiasts.
Through the study of bird migration, we learn so much about their needs and their abilities to adapt to the changing environments.
This knowledge can also be used as a way to connect humans who share these birds in far away places, like Guatemala. It can create an intercambio or exchange and once we understand that we collectively share the natural world, it is then that we begin to know a person or culture without seeing the lines on the landscape. When we do that, we are able to open our minds to each other’s beautiful cultures and knowledge.
La Paz Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust are partnering together to do exactly that - bring people and communities together by connecting them through science and culture.
In April, the TRGT brought three of their Guatemalan partners from Peten, Guatemala to Chattanooga. Local school groups were connected with students in Guatemala and through this visit, both organizations continued the exchange and dialogue between the two cultures. The TRGT, La Paz Chattanooga, and Guatemalan partners connected with over 488 Chattanoogans making their visit to the region a huge success.
"This project would be just another science project if it were not for our partnership with La Paz. They connected our science to human beings and helped us learn so much about the people in Guatemala and Guatemalans that live here in Chattanooga. We are stronger when we know each other and begin to see the value that each of us brings to humanity," said Rick Huffines, executive director of TRGT.
The local cultural exchange included visits to area schools such as Eastside Elementary, Bright School, CSAS, Normal Park, GPS, McCallie, UTC, and Sewanee. The TRGT also immersed the visitors in their work at the Gorge and traveled to the Cherokee National Forest, Sewanee University, and the Smoky National Park to see the regions beauty and learn about local habitat.
“As our community in Chattanooga becomes more international, our partnership with the TRGT has allowed us to show how we are all interconnected. Not only can we connect with other cultures through food, music, and language, but through birds that migrate thousands of miles between our two countries, “ said Vivian Lozano Sterchi, director of Social Impact at La Paz Chattanooga.