It’s not the end, it’s a start to a new beginning
Last day of our training course was full of surprises, like the fact that the bus that was supposed to take us to Huchgurgl was broken! So we had to take the next one… Hochgurgl is a village that was artificially created to attract tourists to the area, because it is situated on a high altitude and is close to Italy. The view that appears after stepping outside of the car gives you shivers! Your eye could reach as far as the big glaciers and the bottom of the valley! It seems to be the reason that attracts quite a lot of motorists with their really fancy machines as well as all kind of expensive car brands!
As our main task of the day we took part in a research of the Ötztal Nature park about Formica Suecica, an endangered species of ant that migrated from Siberia and Scandinavian Countries. After an informational talk about how to find ant hills and collect data about them (shape, location, size and their characteristics) we took off for a search divided into small groups. Each group recorded the relevant information and took ant samples from each nest for further examination. Although all of the nests in winter are covered with snow that seems to be a protective layer and also acts as an insulator from the cold and keeps the heat in, the ski trails that were created the past years have distracted the natural formation of the ant hills and put the species in danger.
The migration of the ants fleeing from climate change triggered some questions about recent events in the human world. In animality the weaker species is pushed aside by the stronger one. Are human beings able to act differently? Could the more privileged (and therefore stronger) ones protect and support the weaker ones? The recent situation with the refugee movement shows that many countries refuse to open the boarders and host the immigrants. As European citizens we are blessed with freedom and democracy, we believe that everyone has a right to live in a peaceful and safe environment. Because of that it was an important point in our program that stimulated discussions that lead to further understanding of the situation of the people that are actually the victims. People that are forced to escape their countries because of violation of their basic human rights, war, climate related hazards and others.
Our last night has come and we couldn’t end it in a better way than sharing a last dinner with everyone in a special place. This is where we are writing from right now! Surrounded by high mountains, listening to the sound of the river as the sun goes down for the last time for us. It’s a perfect moment to reflect all the moments that we experienced during the last week: learning how to love and understand the nature thanks to a lot of scientific input, as well as realizing that even though we are from so many different countries we have so much in common. It doesn’t matter where you call home, we are all equal.
The past week will be soon a memory that we will never forget…
P.S. As for us, Kasia and Maria, we would like to thank you for giving us this great opportunity to learn, laugh and enjoy the nature one more. Benjamin, Wolfgang and Yvonne you did a great job! You set the bar very high! We appreciate your hard work and hope that our roads will soon cross.
All of us are thankfull to the institutions of the European Union for enabling us better connections accross any national borders.
Maria Xantri (Cyprus)
Katarzyna Markowska (Poland)