Manual students present climate change research to Panamanian officials


Patrick Smalley

Kayla Soren (second from left) and four other student geographers present their data. Photo courtesy of Arabelle Jaramillo

The Association of American Geographers and the U.S. State Department selected Manual students Kayla Soren (11, HSU), Brendan Zink (10, MST) and Nivedita Khandkar (12, MST) to attend a Panama tech camp from July 26 to Aug. 6 focusing on the application of technology on climate change and the environment.

Students from Panama and the United States worked on their own research and presented it on Aug. 6 to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and other dignitaries, including the Panamanian minister of education and ambassador to the United States.

Underwritten by the the U.S. State Department, the project carefully selected ten American and thirty Panamanian students to present their findings which were live streamed over the internet.

The groundbreaking data revealed that if the global temperature rose a mere eight degrees, agriculture in Panama would become unsustainable.

According to Patricia Solis, project director at the Association of American Geographers, students were the driving force behind the research.

“This is really about motivated young people making a difference now,” said Solis.“Everyone got their voices heard on an international level, and that’s the coolest thing.”

Students reflected on their positive experiences in the program as well.

“I enjoyed experiencing a new culture,” said Soren. “We were unified by a passion to help solve environmental issues.”

Additionally, a group of three other Manual students, Emilee McCubbins (11, HSU), Vaannila Annadurai (10, MST) and Cassie Deity (9, HSU), went to South Africa as a part of the same program.