Everything is Connected

“No matter what religious or spiritual beliefs you hold, it’s impossible to deny we have been blessed with a planet that has everything we need to survive and be healthy. It is up to us to care for it and to keep it livable for ourselves and all of the living things that share it with us.” -David Suzuki

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I recently returned home from a two week stay in Costa Rica where I was studying primate behavior and conservation methods. For the majority of my time we stayed at the Piro Research Station located just a half mile from the Pacific Ocean in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Piro Research Station is located in “the most biologically intense place on earth” claimed by National Geographic. Osa Conservation oversees Piro Research Station ( and other research stations) with a mission to conserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Osa Peninsula. This experience was one of the biggest blessings and to say the least… I discovered myself in that rainforest.

There were many pros and cons to my stay in the Osa Peninsula. Some pros were waking up to monkeys; observing baby sea turtles on the beach; behavioral observation of the hermit crabs; learning to collect data on primate behavior, population density and habitat description; learning characteristics of some species of trees; witnessing the connection between the wildlife and plants; snorkeling in the clear waters of the Golfo Dulce; horse back ride on the beach during sunset; and lastly connecting with students of the same interest as mine from all over the United States.

Many cons included the cockroaches finding my bed just as comfy as I did; shower stalls that contained every species of insect; checking my clothes for scorpions every time I changed; toilets not being flushed until absolutely necessary; ice bucket cold showers; difficulty in drying clothes due to the high humidity; and crickets that found my hair irresistible.

Would I change anything about this experience? Absolutely not. The moments I experienced have given me a new passion for the rest of my life. It is almost impossible to actually determine the value of our planet until it is seen through your own eyes. A phrase that embodied a broad spectrum of the topics I learned is: “Everything is connected”. This was a phrase carved on wood hanging from the ceiling of the lecture room at Piro Research Station. My instructor and director of DANTA, Kimberly Dingess, would often ask questions regarding the consequences of our actions. Do you think your long shower affects the lives of those in Central America? Do you think your car use impacts the jaguar? How is your iphone harmful to gorillas?

Although this sounds so silly and it is easy to think we are not impacting the lives of other organisms; we are, and the ultimate answer is everything is connected. I had learned a damaging, hard, cold fact in the Osa and that is; my children and grandchildren will not live a life with gorillas and orangutans. These two apes are only a few of many species future generations will not see, unless dramatic changes are made.

Black-handed spider monkey

Black-handed spider monkey

To think our actions and beliefs do not impact our planet was something I used to think until I witnessed the damages of our luxuries. To have the blessing of living in such a biodiverse environment for two weeks will forever have an impact on my views (positively). I recommend to any student wanting to study abroad to not waste a minute of your life and go for it. It seems scary at first but the rewards are phenomenal. Now, I believe it is time for me to take action and spread the word to Bloomsburg Universty students, for the preservation of our future.

 

Kelly Haggerty, Anthropology student, Bloomsberg University of Pennsylvania 

 

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