October 4, 2012 Silent Snow at five universities and the National Electricity Institute

Apart from eleven secondary schools, we have presented Silent Snow at five universities and the National Electricity Institute (ICE). The visits to the University of Costa Rica (UCR) (15 March), Earth (9 May) and CATIE (10 May) have been documented in the first school visits blog.


On 9 August we went to the ICE, where each month an educative program about climate change is organized for the institute’s employees. The person behind these events is Juan José Luis Garcia, a very committed environmentalist, who every month makes a different program. Irina Katchan from the National Metereological Institute, who had interviewed me for her radio program before the screening of Silent Snow in San Jose in October 2011, generally helps Juan José finding speakers for the events, and this time they invited us (see invitation attached).


Important to mention is that during the round table organized at the University of Costa Rica, we met Jaime Garcia, who is a teacher at that University and also at the Distance Learning University of Costa Rica (UNED). Since then, he accompanied us several times to speak to the different students about his experiences as an agronomist who used to teach about the advantages of pesticides, but changed his view over time to now teach about the importance of not using them. He is a very inspirational speaker and therefore, we have repeatedly invited him to join us during our visits to schools and universities. He was also present at the ICE where he spoke, after the movie and the introduction we provided, to the audience consisting in some 40 employers. He also showed a second short documentary about families in Costa Rica who moved to organic farming instead, showing that another way of producing agricultural products that is healthy for workers and the environment, is not only necessary but indeed possible.


On 27 August, Silent Snow was presented at the National University in Heredia. The round table that followed our introduction and the presentation of the documentary was organized by the IRET (Regional Institute for the Study of toxic substances). Four speakers, teachers and researchers at IRET, presented relevant study results and stressed the importance of the messages of Silent Snow (see program below). There were at least 70 students who were very interested both in the movie and the presentations that followed, and asked many questions of which the most important one was what they as students could do to make a difference. Of course we asked the crowd to answer the question themselves, which led to an interesting debate about what they could do now and what they should do in their future careers.


Before the presentation of Silent Snow at the UNA, we were interviewed by three national television stations: Canal 6, Canal 7 and Canal 13, the most popular Costa Rican channels that are seen daily by an important part of the population. I heard afterwards, that we had indeed appeared on television that same evening, both Berna van Wendel, one of the key researchers at IRET and me. Canal 13 showed even interest in bringing the whole movie to the television, a plan that we will follow up.


On 30 August, Silent Snow was presented at the Technical Institute of Cartago (ITEC), a university offering mainly technical careers, where we were invited to present the documentary during the week of Environmental Engineering (see below invitation). The whole session was beautiful and very interesting with very committed students, some 50, who all very actively participated in the discussions afterwards. The round table featured Douglas Barrazo from IRET, Inez Giménez from the Latin American Watertribunal (a non-governmental organization that works in the area of conflict resolution in social conflicts around water) , and us to present Silent Snow. After discussing the different points brought up by the movie and the three presentations, the students deliberated, just the same as in the UNA, about what the messages given by Silent Snow meant to them and their future work, and how they could bring these messages forward. They explicitly mentioned how important they felt this session, including the film, the presentations and the debate that followed was for them, as future environmentalists, and that more of these activities should be organized to enrich the academic programs in a country like Costa Rica. We realized how rewarding it is to work with young students who are really committed to their studies and work, and how important to indeed bring them a movie like Silent Snow, including the discussions afterwards as we have been doing over the past months. 


After the visits to schools and universities realized under the program, additional invitations have reached us from the Legislative Assembly (!), from, as mentioned above, Canal 13 (television), the Occupational Health Department of the TEC Cartago, a second secondary school in Siquirres, a secondary school in Heredia, a community in San Carlos, several other communities and schools. There is still a lot of work to do, in Costa Rica and abroad.


Our main goal at this point is to find a way to get a more official publication for the secondary school booklet and to present it, with a copy of Silent Snow to the Minister of Education in the hope that he will include it in the formal education program. At the same time, we will try to find additional funds to continue our tour through the country, but we will also look for new opportunities to present the movie at bigger and smaller, eventually local, cinemas. We hope to be able to give more and more people an opportunity to see this important documentary, and more importantly, to reflect about its messages and look for alternatives within their own communities.


Jorine Muiser

Amanda Merkx

Guillermo Jirón


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