So our most recent service project literally involved putting Yap schools on the map (seriously, we put them on the map!). On Thursday morning we set out with David and Jack from the Yap Department of Education. Our goal was to map the property and building footprints of two K-8 schools. The first was in the northwestern portion of Yap known as Tomil and the second was in Gilman located in the southern tip. I took about 7 students and went with David to Gilman and my colleague Reed took the remaining 5 students and traveled north to Tomil. Once we got to Gilman collecting the GPS points was fairly easy.
Later on the faculty (mostly my colleague Reed Perkins) will use aerial imagery along with the GPS information to put the schools on a map.
After we completed the GPS collection our students quickly started interacting with the Yap students. Anna and Jocelyn played a little catch and volleyball with some young (probably around 1st grade) students and Erin and Ryan joined in on a pick-up soccer game. It was fun watching our students interact with the Yapese on a universal level….sports! After our visit David took us on a little driving tour of southern Yap. We stopped at the southernmost point to take a few scenic pictures and then made our way through a few rural villages before heading north and driving past the old runway. The old runway was built by the Japanese and was heavily used (and bombed) during World War II. After the war it was used at the main airport for Yap till the new one was built in the 90’s. The old runway was also the site where most of the invasive grass imperata was located on Yap (I’ll discuss this invasive grass in a later post, but, it was the focus of much of work for almost a decade).
After our productive morning we did not have much time to rest. Around 11:30 we made the short drive to the new (established in 2011) Yap Catholic High School. Our plan for the afternoon was to repeat what we did in the morning, but, for Yap Catholic High School. Before we started, our students were paired off with each of the three classes (since the school is new, they are phasing in classes, so at the moment, they only have 9-11). Our students had a chance to answer questions from the Yapese students and visa versa. After a short period to socialize (where the CHS students also climbed trees and collected fresh coconuts and papaya) we were treated to an amazing feast of local dishes and fish. Everything was there from taro, mangos and breadfruit to grilled reef fish (oh yea, and chilled coconut!). After we finished lunch, our students worked with the junior class to map the campus (which is quite beautiful). Our students trained the CHS students on how to use the Trimble units and how to complete a field sketch. Afterwards, Reed and Diana gave a presentation to ALL of the students on what GPS/GIS is all about and why it is important. Our plan is to send the information (with maps) back to CHS after we leave so they can show their students the results of their work. All-in-all it was a very successful and complete day where our students once again lived the Queens motto… Non ministrari, sed ministrare… “Not to be served, but to serve”!