Thanksgiving Florida 2021:
Exploring the Everglades
We meet with individuals dedicated to restoring the Everglades, asking key questions and learning about various approaches and the challenges to each.
We meet with the real people who are drivers of change in South Beach, Little Havana, and the other communities we visit.
Activities at this idyllic location include: canoeing, snorkeling, citizen science projects, glass-bottom kayaking, and more!
The below itinerary provides one projection of the daily schedule. Changes may be made to improve the program quality, based on the logistical and educational needs of enrolled students.
Early arrivals / Late departures can be arranged to meet the needs of individual students.
Saturday/Sunday – November 20/21
Students arrive and check in to our accommodations outside of Miami. We hold welcome dinners for all arrivals, and spend some time getting to know each other, adjusting to our surroundings, and discussing what we are most looking forward to during the week.
Monday – November 22
During the morning, we depart for a ‘highlight tour’ of Miami. After building group dynamics we divide into small groups for a scavenger hunt-style exploration of South Beach wherein we meet local people, ask relevant questions about life and culture in South Beach, Miami, and Florida more generally. After dinner, we spend some time having some fun on the beach and soaking in Miami’s vibrant nightlife.
Tuesday – November 23
Today is spent immersing ourselves in the flavors, sounds, smells and feelings of the city. Participants head to Little Havana, a neighborhood emblematic of the Cuban diaspora, to learn about the unique culture in this part of the city. We tour the area with a local expert who brings our understanding of the area to a much higher intellectual level than a tourist could achieve. We take the curiosity engendered by our tour into a Humans of New York style small in small groups. Students work to find one person with a “story worth telling.” Later on, we share our stories together to begin to weave a narrative that we share as a group. In the late afternoon, we head to the Deering Estate for our next few days of programming.
Wednesday – November 24
We wake up at the Deering Estate and get the lay of the land. Activities can include some of the following: canoeing, snorkeling, citizen science projects, glass-bottom kayaking, and of course, workshops on conservation and environmentalism in this idyllic location.
THursday – November 25
It is Thanksgiving! In the morning, we all make a menu together where each student contributes a dish related to their family’s cultural heritage tradition. We shop for the ingredients and work together throughout the day to cook a meal and enjoy it together.
Friday – November 26
In the late morning, we thank our hosts and leave the Deering Estate. We head toward Everglades City to broaden our lived understanding of the local biome. We take a walking tour of the Everglades, learning about the Indigenous history of the area and how a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and the environment existed in this region. Our guide explains the multiple attempts to drain the Everglades for agricultural use or development over the last century, and how it came to be that the area is now federally protected. We meet with the park rangers and participate in an invasive species removal, assisting with the ongoing process of keeping non-native plants bereft of their native checks and balances from disrupting this delicate, wholly unique ecosystem. Students learn about the scale of this problem, which touches nearly every ecosystem in the world thanks to a highly mobile human population.
Saturday – November 27
Before breakfast, we head out on a dawn kayaking tour complete with mosquito headnets and long-sleeve shirts! We soak in the sounds and sights of the way the Everglades wakes up through a short meditation exercise. After completing our explorations of this natural paradise, we head back towards Miami in the early evening.
Sunday – November 28
We close the program in the morning and assist students with departures as the day continues.