Sunday, June 16, 2024

Malayo pa, pero malayo na (Still a long way to go, but have already gone a long way) – Climate Generation

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When I think about climate change nowadays, I think about how the places I consider home have changed, are changing, and will continue to change.

I think about how the things I enjoy can cease to exist. As someone who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines, I call those two countries my home; both have honed me into who I am today– from the culture I grew up with to the community I belong to. Given climate change’s dire impacts, I can’t help but feel anxious about how those places are also rapidly changing. I can see it right before my eyes: from the warmer summers and more intense typhoons in the Philippines to the warmer and shorter winters in Winnipeg, it feels odd and frightening to experience those changes instantly.

I grew up in the Philippines and as a child, my parents always made sure that we had food on the table and taught us to save up and be thrifty. My parents also taught me to refrain from littering anywhere and to throw away my garbage properly. However, prioritizing the environment was not at the top of the list and something as seemingly simple as recycling is not something that is emphasized. Flooding is common whenever it rains, which often means trash will flow from one place to another because even though I try to be mindful of my trash, others will leave trash in the streets. A lot of our rivers are known for water and plastic pollution. There weren’t a lot of trees and parks around in larger cities for people to enjoy. As a kid, all of these seemed expected in my environment.

When I moved to Canada in 2013 and began navigating a new environment, I realized I had to unlearn what I deemed typical back in the Philippines. One thing that stood out for me during my first year in Canada was how everywhere I went, there was a garbage and recycling bin. I only learned how to recycle properly when I moved to Canada. I thought, “If only the Philippines could have the same system, there would probably be less trash going to the rivers and streets.”

Despite this new recycling knowledge, my climate journey wouldn’t truly start until much later.

My climate journey began not too long ago. In fact, it only started in 2022 when I landed my current role at the Manitoba Museum as their Learning and Engagement Producer for Youth Climate Action. I knew what climate change and global warming were, but my understanding of those topics needed work. I remember when I interviewed at the museum, they asked me about eco-anxiety and I had no idea what that was. I knew what anxiety meant, but eco-anxiety? It was my first time hearing that term.

Earth Day 2023 Panel Discussion

I was fortunate to get the job; I made sure to research, take notes, and deepen my understanding of climate change and its impacts. I didn’t have any formal education in the environment and sustainability discipline; all I had was my background in science, my strong interest in working with youth, and my determination to learn more about climate change and make an impact through my job.

My work at the museum has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the environment around me. I’ve learned to appreciate the many wonderful things that Mother Nature does for us. I have become more conscious of my actions and decisions that will impact the environment – in short, I have to walk the talk.

My role at the museum has also taught me the importance of climate education and having resources everyone can access.

For example, I run a group called Youth Climate Alliance at the Manitoba Museum. The program aims to give youth ages 14 – 18 a platform to pursue their climate change advocacy and to learn more about climate change and its impacts. Working with youth never fails to inspire me. I feel hopeful about the future because I can see how there are people out there who can come together and make the world a better place.

As I write this, I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come when it comes to my climate journey and how much more I need to learn and improve. There’s a phrase in Tagalog that goes “Malayo pa, pero malayo na” or in English, “Still a long way to go but have already gone a long way”-  this is how I would summarize my climate story. There is still so much that I need to learn and unlearn about climate change and its impacts, and climate action, but I know that Mika a year and a half ago would be so proud of who she is today.

My name is Mika Pineda, and I am currently working at the Manitoba Museum as a Learning and Engagement producer for Youth Climate Action. I create and develop programming related to climate change for youth (K-12). Through the programs I develop, I hope to educate Manitoban youth about climate change and its impacts because it is such an important issue right now.

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