Alexandra Doudera who found herself in Viña del Mar for a study abroad program was a student at the Northeastern University. She had some goals in mind. For six months, the picturesque city on the Pacific Ocean shore of Chile would serve as the backdrop for improving her Spanish skills and teaching English to fifth-graders. Meanwhile, she was absorbing as much knowledge as she could about the methods that some coastal cities in Latin America used to boost their economies without compromising their natural resources and ecosystems. Inspired, Doudera returned to Boston with ideas for her senior capstone project.
The project served as the catalyst for Saltwater Classroom, a nonprofit that Doudera founded six months after graduating in 2017 with degrees in marine biology and environmental studies. The organisation seeks to teach young students about ocean science and conservation. Through weeklong workshops held in classrooms around the world, Doudera and her team teach students about the importance of protecting our oceans through hands-on activities and field experiments. They learn about the issues faced by oceans and coastal ecosystems around the world, including overfishing and plastic pollution. They also get familiar with different species of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds. Workshop leaders take students to local seashores to sample seawater, measure waves, and search for plankton. They also facilitate science projects and beach clean-ups.
Doudera plans to use the money raised by a Kickstarter campaign to create a smartphone app for Saltwater that will enable students to stay engaged with the material and connect with their peers, long after they have completed the program. She started Saltwater to instill in young people an interest in solving the problems faced by our oceans. Many of the students who participate in the program are aware of endangered species or issues such as coral bleaching but don’t have a deeper understanding about the issues or how they can help to solve them.
“When you value something, you want to protect it and see that no harm comes to it. We need a new wave of this kind of thinking for our oceans”, says Doudera
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman