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TEDxDubai - Ernest VanderPoll - 10/10/09

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We need to decompress a little bit As all things happen at Tedx, it is just putting it all together and thats your job when we start thinking about change, we start thinking about our environment, we start thinking about how do we inspire different kinds of thinking, how do we inspire people to think in a sustainable way Ernest Van der Poll applause Hi, my name is Ernest, I'm a diving instructor and I would like to talk to you about the vital importance of reconnecting youth to nature I'd like to start my story by talking a little bit about the guys behind there this picture was taken in Sea de Soleil as you can see they're all balancing on top of each other okay, sea turtles are amazing creatures a couple of interesting things about sea turtles they have been known to dive down to more than 500 meters to find jellyfish to eat them they can hold their breath for up to 5 hours slowing their heartbeats down to about 1 beat every 9 minutes - mine is beating about 300 beats at the moment laughter the interesting thing about these sea turtles the most thing.. the thing that amazes me the most is the vast distances that these sea turtles can actually travel in one life-time but the key thing that is the most mind-blowing is the fact that the female species always seem to make way back to her ancestral beach, the beach she was born in to lay her eggs now these little sea turtles, from the moment they get born, they've got a little clock inside their body that guides them down towards the ocean and they're wrestling their way down towards the beach and how do they do that? inside their bodies they got a natural compass that guides them towards the water and they use the natural reflection of the moon shining onto the water to guide them back unfortunately, theres about 8 different species of sea turtles and they're all in the endangered species list and the reason for this is as coastal developments moves closer down towards the areas where they nest these little sea turtles get confused by the artificial light and they make their way to streets and parking lots where they will eventually die of exposure now this little story that we can read the same connection that these sea turtles have with the ocean, Dubai had as well Dubai, the Dubai that we see today is the city that got inspired by the sea as you can see from the photo over there the city started right on the water's edge. the people of Dubai, they were fishermen, spending time out there catching fish to feed their families they were sea Pharaohs, they were pearl divers that never gated their way across the ocean using only the stars to guide them as little as one generation later, this have changed very few connections are left for young people to actually interact with nature very similar, the young people have moved away just like the sea turtles are being misguided and moving away from the natural light actually shining they're actually moving to the parking lots, the young people also being, the communication diverted by whats happening in cities nowadays now I'd like to bring your attention to the two quotes behind me especially the one at the bottom; its taken from a 4th grader he said: "my favorite place to play is indoors, because thats where all the electrical outlets are" when you look at the top quote by Walt Whitman, I'd like to share a story with you when I grew up I grew up in a tiny little town in Port Edward A very first memory at school was going down across the beach which is probably about as far as you guys are sitting from me and I went snorkeling with my in these rock pools and I was amazed to how much life was in to a little area by as big as the stage but one of the memories thats the most vivid in my mind is of a big whale that came into the bay in front of the school and she gave birth to her baby what ended up happening is these dolphins came and they made a huge circle around this whale and it was the most fascinating thing to see that every morning we get to school early just to be able to see what happened with the calf and the dolphin and this is one of the many memories that connected me to nature Now, when we have a look at the opportunities that we have in Dubai, okay as a diving educator, and as a person who has actually lived here for about 11 years I want to take, I want to make a connection and create a way for young people to be able to reconnect to nature and I founded a project called "Tawasul" in 2002 to do exactly that, to reconnect young people to nature one of the flagship projects that we have in "Tawasul" is called "Adopt a reef" project and the whole aim of the "Adopt a reef" project is to create an attachment with young people to nature without this attachment young people will not be able to benefit from connecting to nature, being able to be passionate about nature we use "Adopt a reef" by getting children to adopt a reef and not diving it once or twice but maybe 4 or 5 times I teach them how to survey the reef, its amazing to see as the kids start diving on the reef, the first time they're just looking at the reef but then after a while they start seeing things little fish becomes communities, okay they start noticing the clown fish and grouper even more exciting than that is one of our future projects that we actually going to bringing up a restoration project where we're looking at the coastal area along the Dubai coast line to introduce something called restoration ecology and we're working very closely with children in the community as well as coastal engineers to create eco-engineered reef bommie now, really, what this is as we did a little bit of research and we found out daily in Dubai theres about 30 tons of construction waste so what we're looking at doing is getting bright-minded young people alike to find ways to use construction waste to actually create these big coral heads and we get the kids involved right from the start, from the design phases; drawing on the paper I wanna create a habitat for Hamour or turtle, and then together we build the reef and eventually we get the kids to dive and survey the reef as important a connection is in nature, we also believe there should be an attachment in community and "Tawasul" does this by getting children and young people involved with local NGOs and charities within the local community one such an example is some of the work that we did with PCRF we had a couple of kids - these are the kids that lost a limb or part of a limb in the conflict between Israel and Palestine and we took the diving this young man made a big impact - I have a soft spot in my heart for him. his name is Anas. He lost his eye and his leg about 6 months before this photo was taken you can imagine what a kid must go through, that was once running up and down and playing .. so, seeing these kids in the water unassisted by crutches and being able to move freely is something that I can't describe in words I'd like to take you through some slides of a typical "Tawasul" journey this was like about a week ago and we actually took these kids out on one of these big Arabian Dhows down to the Musandam these photos were actually taken by one of the kids and really, all it is, is us leaving quarter past 5 in the morning and, I, the whole day, I'm setting the stage for these children, okay. Its like, its almost like a play and as we go along you can feel the excitement building! its the dramatic blue seas, mountains, meet in a place and its just brilliant to see the kids out of the city They're putting their kit together before the time. We do briefings - some of the key things we do is identifying key indicating organisms like some fish species and stuff that are typically found in the Gulf and then, what I'm trying to do is telling the kids the whole time: Remember, don't just look at things, see things! now, very often, once they're under the water they see small things like Clown fish or maybe a shrimp but now, and again, you get an amazing experience of diving with one of these big guys now this is the biggest fish in the ocean. Its called a Whale Shark, and being able to see one of these things your heart beats really fast when you do see them and I asked the kids: How do you feel about this? and the one kid, the quote that comes to mind, he said "Ernest when I looked at the spots on this whale shark, it looked like the fingerprints of God" and this was a photo that was actually taken by this child theres also time for fun and games in between, but on the way back we give the children a chance to actually reflect on their day they log their dive to identify the fish, they share something that inspires them, and we discuss it in a group and then, what we do is we get the kids just to enjoy nature. At one point and time I just get everybody to keep quiet, find a nice quiet place on the boat and just meditate on the day Obviously you can see these young men took it a step further! laughter On this particular day we came back into the harbor and theres a giant Guitar shark that got caught in nets and it was fascinating to see the children's reaction to this because, you can tell them about shark fin, you can tell them about what happens to sharks in nature, but for them to actually see something that they saw alive, swimming around, making an impact on them and then seeing it lifeless on a slab, ready to be shipped out to China to be chopped into pieces for its fins really made an impact on them, and they were really grilling the fishermen. I'd like to summarize; knowledge of nature is very important, but passion is going to be the long-distance fuel and I struggle to conserve natural heritage now passion is not something that you live in a classroom its not something that you read in a book or see on television. Passion is something that is lifted from nature passion is in the fingerprint patterns - the god-like finger print patterns on a whale shark passion is what you find in the rock pools that you go snorkeling as a child passion is in the dolphins circling around a whale. Its in the baby turtles wrestling their way down towards the beach. and i'd like to employ each and every one of you guys find that connection that you had as a child with nature look inside yourself, and if you don't have that connection or cant find it, okay, its not too late to connect to nature applause / Thank you very much

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 24 seconds
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Giorgio Ungania
Director: Giorgio Ungania
Views: 126
Posted by: giorgiotedx on Jan 13, 2010

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations) Our event is call TEDxDubai, where x=independently organized TED event

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