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Guest speaker at our Gathering

Guest speaker at our Gathering
Guest speaker at our Gathering

Our second Gathering revolved around the theme of our guiding principle Responsibility.

“With great power comes great responsibility” - these famous words of wisdom came to light through Spiderman, yet are in fact much more ancient. Essentially responsibility is a privilege. Responsibility is subjective. Responsibility needs to be embraced in order to make positive change.

Specifically, in the realm of climate change, there is a pressing need to put our Earth first. Now that we are in deep water, we are directly facing the ravages of unsustainable systems.

Paris-based International Environmental NGO Gaia First wants to make the Earth Great Again. The NGO’s Founder and President is Aiglon alumnus Gianni Valenti (Belvedere, 1995). He was our guest speaker at this edition of the Gathering.

Gaia, meaning Earth, Mother Earth, personified as a goddess, is the first God in Greek cosmology. Signifying the origin of life, she is known for nurturing young children and plants, also acting as the giver of dreams.

And what a dream it is to see the prospect of a cleaner Earth, and especially cleaner oceans, thanks to Gaia First. The enterprise is entering uncharted waters, promising to tackle the iceberg that is the ocean garbage patch with an inventive solution.

Predominantly composed of plastic, these patches block sunlight from reaching phytoplankton. Therefore they do not have the energy to then convert CO2 into oxygen. ⅓ of all our planet’s CO2 released by human activity depends on ocean absorption. Of course, plastic harms ocean life more broadly, as well as threatening to turn the delicate balance upside down.

Gaia will begin by targeting the Pacific patch, which is 3 times the size of France. So large, it is probably visible from space.

When we asked Gianni what inspired him to launch this venture, he did not hesitate in saying that it was Aiglon that cultivated in him his love of nature, his ability to think outside the box, search for deeper meaning and seize opportunities. Aiglon was his departure point.

You must be thinking - how on earth will Gaia First make this patch vanish or even better transform it into something beneficial?

The answer lies with two unique boats that aim to collect around 9000 tonnes of plastic from the oceans per year, recycle this plastic and, in the process, conveniently create green energy to power the boats. A gasification system onboard will metamorphose the plastic into hydrogen energy. The boats could equally help in the event of an oil spill for example. Consequently, marine life can be regenerated, and, globally, the health of our home.

It will be possible to watch video live streams of the plastic clean up process from the boats. Perhaps this will spur others into local action, by participating in local clean-up projects.

Our students already initiated one clean-up project in Cambodia last Autumn. While other students were lucky enough to go on a diving adventure in Egypt’s Red Sea. Life underwater was magical - contributing to a student epiphany on how absurd life’s opportunities can be - and we strive to ensure it remains protected.

To finish, this term’s Gathering was another eclectic showcase of the diverse strengths and talents of our student body taking responsibility through expressive music, beautiful voices, graceful dance moves, charismatic acting and eloquent words. We hope they can continue to harness this energy in their future endeavours.

Gianni’s speech at the Gathering this January can only further inspire Aiglonians to take responsibility, to innovate, to be disruptive for the wellbeing of our shared and cherished Earth.

Watch the recording


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