Two Island School and BESS alumni, Bradley Watson (F08) and Garneisha Pinder (F10) have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to China for 6-weeks to study biogas production at the BIOMA Institute. After the Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas, Hu Shan, visited The Island School for the opening of Cape Eleuthera Institute's Hallig House, he offered for two Bahamian students to travel to China to study biodigestion with all expenses paid by the Chinese Embassy. Below are some of Bradley's initial thoughts. Check back in a few weeks for another update from China!

On my return from a semester of studying Buddhism and Plant Taxonomy at the College of Charleston I received an email offering me an opportunity to go to China and study Biogas production at the BIOMA institute. At first I was filled with disbelief and then excitement took its place. This course that the Chinese Government offered for two Bahamian students would include people from other developing countries like Dominica, Columbia, Ghana, Niger, Venezuela, Nepal, Tanzania, and others. The last time I heard about biogas production was at the Island School while I was mentoring students during its first summer semester as the first stages of their bio digestion project began. The first time I was exposed to the concept of producing methane gas from organic wastes like sewage and agricultural by-products must have been in some documentary or reading that is now only a foggy memory. I had no idea that I would get a chance to gain a technical understanding of how these systems work from such seasoned practitioners as the professors of the BIOMA Institute who had taught 47 of these courses previously. With my goal of improving the sustainability of the Bahamian lifestyle in mind I could hardly imagine all the benefits of two young scientists being exposed to such a program, and for 56 days!

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One of the benefits I could imagine was an improved waste treatment system to reduce eutrophication of our reef ecosystems due to the “soak away” systems conventionally used on our islands. Another was the ability to produce methane gas on family islands reducing their dependence on and importation of propane gas for cooking fuel. The course would be worthwhile even if a bio-digester simply provided a use for all the food “waste” that would be discarded otherwise, even though it was originally imported at a high economic and environmental cost when it was considered useful food. The immense responsibility of implementing such systems made this opportunity a great honor, and one I could not turn down no matter how much anxiety I felt.

Now here I am in China after having my eyes opened to the practicality, beauty, and necessity of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable systems at the Island School. Although I am intimidated by the qualifications of my classmates my experiences as an intern at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) add to my confidence in this research oriented setting. After working with the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) I am excited about the challenge of encouraging the implementation of small scale bio-digestion systems in any practical application in the Bahamas. I just hope I can live up to the expectations of my fellow Bahamians, and the others who have invested their time and resources in my education and the development of sustainable systems our country as I act as an ambassador of my government on this course and when I return to our shores.

Thinking of Home,

Bradley Watson