COVID Profiles, Part III: Thomas Art

April 6, 2020

With Mt. Greylock closed until May 4th, many students are looking for ways to remain occupied turning this temporary break. The Echo is writing profiles on students who are pursuing activities outside of the traditional school environment.

Eighth grader Thomas Art is dedicating his time to a research project on the people of Ecuador.

“It’s going to be about how the elevation and geographic region determines the daily lives of the people there,” Art said. After doing extensive research, Art will write an essay, which will contain the information collected throughout the duration of the project. 

This will include consideration of “The difference in daily life between people who live in the mountains, the rainforest, and the desert,” Art said. 

Art decided to do this project for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that “my parents didn’t want me just sitting around the house all break, so they decided to have me do some sort of academic project.”

“I traveled to Ecuador this past summer, and I really enjoyed it,” Art said, when commenting on why he chose Ecuador. He added, “I wanted to learn a little bit more about it, so I decided this would be a perfect time to do some research.”

Navigating a subject with so much information at hand can be difficult, but Art said, “I have a book that I got from my Spanish teacher which is on the Andes and the mountains. I’m using some websites to look up other information.” 

Using a mixture of websites and books, he has been able to deepen his knowledge of how geographical regions affect the daily lives of the Ecuadorian people. He said, “The people in the different regions have different jobs, and those jobs affect how they live. People in the rainforest are farmers and fishermen, so they make the food they eat.”

He said, “Oil is the main component of Ecuador’s economy, and the oil companies have taken over a large portion of the rainforest. Many people are upset with the companies, but some people are glad that they are opening up jobs.” 

Doing this research has led to learning much more about the Ecuadorian people. When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Art said, “Probably reading the stories of the people who have traveled there, and how it’s been different from anything they’ve ever seen.”

“I’ve learned the differences between how we live in the United States, and more specifically Williamstown, [and how the Ecuadorian people live]” Art said.

He said, “Some of the things I’ve learned have opened my eyes on how different it is, like the United States economy is around 200 times larger than Ecuador’s.”

Commenting on how having this break has kept him busy during a time when many are bored, Art said, “It’s just something else to do.” He added, “It’s not really like school, because I have the freedom to do what I want, but also know that I have this to do.”

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