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Students prepare for conservation expedition to Transylvania

Group will be shadowing scientists during their two-week trip

The Maltese students and teachers who are heading to Romania this summer. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Maltese students and teachers who are heading to Romania this summer. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A group of students from post-secondary institutions will this summer spend a good chunk of their holidays in Romania, shadowing scientists as they learn conservation techniques.

The group travelling to the historic region of Transylvania next month will also be learning about new conservation techniques they hope will come in handy as they attempt to protect local flora and fauna.

Speaking to this newspaper, the students said that while the two-week stay will provide them with hands-on experience as they will be working closely with scientists, it is also an opportunity for them to come into contact with a new way of life which they hope would leave a lasting impact.

I hope it will be a life-changing experience for us too

“It’s a two-week venture where we will not only be leaving an impact on the environment there but hopefully it would also help us grow as individuals,” Nicolai Debono, 17, who attends the Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary at Naxxar,  said.

The students are tackling different subjects but all have a passion for the environment.

The group has also been training for the experience by going on long walks and hiking trips since while in Romania they will be walking in forests for hours on end.

“Apart from being physically fit we also have to get to know each other so that we are aware of what each of us is doing, especially since we will be in the middle of nowhere with no mobile phones,” 16-year-old Greta Grech, who also attends the Higher Secondary said.

Another member of the group, 20-year-old Kirk Grech, added that spending days disconnected from the digital world was something he was looking forward to.

As they will be spending most of their days in fields and forests, the young students will likely not be able to connect their phones to the internet yet Mr Grech insisted that like most of his peers he spends hours on social media and so this would be a welcome change.

“I know people who went on similar trips in the past and I saw a change in them for the better. When they returned they started making different life choices and I hope it will be a life-changing experience for us too,” Mr Grech quipped.

Mark John Mallia, a student at St Martin's College, will also take part in the expedition.

The expedition is under the auspices of Operation Wallacea, a network of academics who organise conservation management research programmes around the globe – from Cuba to Greece and from Honduras to Transylvania.

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