Even though most of us were still tired from the night before, everybody showed up for the last working day of our first week. After singing a birthday song for Maiko, who turned 22 today, and a brief Japanese lesson from Sam, we continued our introduction round and post-discussion of the movie ‘Home’ that we had started the day before.

One of the questions that came up was whether the western model of development is a good one and whether it should be adopted by the rest of the world. Sam tried to explain his opinion to us by comparing the world to an island, stating that we have to learn to live with each other and to respect the environment and that the western model might not be suited for specific areas of the earth.

Furthermore we spend a lot of time discussing how wealth should be measured. The classical method is to look at the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country which comprises the value of goods and services produced in a certain time span. It is criticized for being solely based on economic factors and therefore regarded as inappropriate as an indicator for satisfaction. As a consequence, the gross national happiness index (aka happiness index) was developed in the 1970s. It compounds factors like the economic situation, the level of education, health, and culture. Japan is a classic example for a country with a high GDP but a low happiness index which is reflected in their high suicide rate.

In addition to that, we broached the subject of climatic change and its consequences. Even though it is hard to deny that it exists, and most people and governments agree that something should be done against it, there weren’t a lot of noteworthy steps taken against it in recent years. The problem is that everyone has to agree to join the battle against global warming because it is a global issue and therefore can only be won globally. Examples for the consequences of climatic change are the heavy rainfalls that occur since the last 15 years in some areas of Bangladesh and with that the escape of climate refugees. Max, who visited Bangladesh last summer, gave us some interesting but sad facts about the country and the ways people live there.

Other topics that we briefly conversed were the extinction of bees and the consequences it will have to the fauna, the harvesting of animals, the stabilization of the world’s population, and the demolition of coral reefs.

The lesson ended with a repetition of some basic business phrases, like for instance competitive advantage, differentiation, vision and mission statement, core values, and strategy. Also, Sam gave us two articles, one about natural gas and the other one about a Chinese bug known as ash borer, which we will have to prepare for the next week.

In the lunch break Maiko shared her birthday cake with us. It was a chocolate cake with a caramel filling and probably one of the sweetest things I have ever eaten.

After Spanish lesson, some of us went to the shopping mile of San Jose to get some clothes for rafting and had a drink afterwards in a bar playing Salsa music, where Christopher’s  gesticulation for “La cuenta, por favor” was misinterpreted and let to another round of beer.

In the evening the majority of us said good bye to Philipp who had to leave San Jose the next morning while the rest of the group went to bed early in order to be fit for the rafting tour on the following day.

text and picture: David Galitzki