The following is a press release from the Central Caribbean Marine Institute:
CCMI opens doors to international students after two years – with boost from RESEMBID Covid-19 Resilience Response Facility grant
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has hosted its first set of international students since the Cayman Islands closed its borders due to Covid-19. In March 2022, Indiana University was the first international college to return to CCMI since 2020, hopefully marking a turn in the impact of the global pandemic on CCMI’s international residential programming in Little Cayman. CCMI will host Saginaw Valley State University in June 2022, and hopes to see the return of Dartmouth College, University of North Carolina, Rutgers Study Abroad programme, Wellesley College, University of Delaware, Indiana University, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2023.
Operating with the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community has been key to CCMI’s reopening strategy. CCMI has recently been awarded a RESEMBID grant for EU €203,384 that provides funds to support technical assistance to adapt to Covid-19, which has facilitated the operational changes needed for CCMI to safely host local and international researchers and students:
“The impact of Covid-19 on CCMI’s operations in the last two years has been catastrophic for our international residential programmes. Although we did adapt to teaching virtually, what makes CCMI unique is the residential experience. We provide an opportunity for students to come and live on a remote island, at a sustainable field station, immersed in nature and marine science,” said CCMI’s Director of Advancement Kate Holden. “The grant from RESEMBID has made a significant difference to us – providing the funding and the technical assistance to update the research station into a Covid-19 ready facility. It will take us about a year to complete the project, but we are already seeing the benefits from the RESEMBID support.”
RESEMBID, funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France (the development cooperation agency of the Government of France), supports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTS). The RESEMBID Covid-19 Resilience Response Facility grant has provided CCMI funds for equipment, IT infrastructure, and improved health and safety protocols, enabling the organisation to adapt and remain focused on its vision to be a regional leader in research that helps protect marine biodiversity and improves coral reef ecosystem resilience.
CCMI operates a marine field research station on Little Cayman, and the residential ethos at CCMI is centred on shared spaces, scientific community, and engaging education experiences. To host residential groups, CCMI has been proactive in reducing contact in indoor spaces where possible and practicable.
Outcomes from the RESEMBID project, in addition to improved international bookings due to a facility that is ready to cope with operating in the face of Covid-19, will include a webinar and publicly available training materials for other operations and non-profits to use. For further details of the Covid-19 Resilience Response Facility grant, titled: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting biodiversity and improving resilience, please see our website: https://reefresearch.org/who-we-are/field-station/adapting-to-covid-19/.