In September 2017, a group of Woodward students traveled to Australia as part of the Academy’s Global Connections program, which allows students to journey around the globe. They explored the continent’s biological and climate diversity and came back awed at what they had seen.
Now, those same students are left to watch from Atlanta—some 10,000 miles away—as wildfires ravage Australia. To date, the New South Wales bushfires have burned an area the size of West Virginia. 28 people have died, 3,000 homes have been destroyed, and an estimated one billion animals have died.
We reached out to those students to get their thoughts on the fires and on Australia’s long recovery ahead.
“These fires are heartbreaking. As someone who is going to college to study environmental science, I wish I could fly over there and offer hands-on help. When I visited I had never experienced such beautiful greenery and such a wide variety of wildlife that could only be found on a single island. My biggest concern about these fires is all the animals that can't defend themselves against the scorching heat and have had to walk up to humans just to receive a sip of water. It is truly devastating and the entire world should be focusing on the fires and offering a helping hand.”
—Ethan Allagnon, senior
“When I see the videos of the fires in Australia and the news of all of the animals, whose habitats are being destroyed, it makes me sad and concerned. When we were there in the Australian forests surrounded by tall trees, everywhere you looked you could see something different. It was truly just a beautiful environment to see. Then when we went spear fishing, the forest ran right up to the sand, and it was a wonderful sight of greenery to sandy beach then ocean.”
—Emmett Ricker, junior
“Hearing about the wildfires has been very upsetting. Knowing such an amazing and beautiful location is suffering so severely is truly terrible. Everyone on Earth has a responsibility to take care of our world, and everyone should feel affected by this tragedy. There is no planet B.”
—Connor Rosenthal, junior
While no trips to Australia are scheduled, students will have the chance to go to the country again in the future, said Stephane Allagnon, director of International and Global Connections.