Botond Szlabony: Saving Lives, One Turtle at a Time

Botond Szlabony, our Hungarian IB student, shares his CAS experience in Greece and how it shaped him to want to do more for the environment.

17 January 2019

Since arriving at Institut Montana Zugerberg three years ago from Hungary, with very little English, Botond has consistently carved out a path to success. Applying the same discipline that he has in his athletic pursuits to his academics, he has not only become fluent in English, but recently had the senior boys’ football team, of which he is the captain of, win a football tournament which also saw two of its team members win an award for the top scorer and best goalkeeper of the tournament. Thus, he not only leads himself to success but also that of his peers and teammates.

As Ms. Hina Agarwalla, his former EAL support teacher proclaims, “Botond Szlabony is a perfect gentleman and a role model for our junior students. He has used his time at Institut Montana Zugerberg effectively and realized his potential through hard work and discipline, be it sports or academics. He sees challenges as an opportunity to grow and asks for help when necessary. He is an older brother to many and a friend that his classmates can count on. He treats everyone with the utmost respect and is always ready to offer a helping hand even if he is drowned in work himself.”

As an IB student, the CAS is an integral part of his programme. Standing for creativity, activity, service (CAS), the CAS is one of the three essential elements that every student must complete as part of the Diploma Programme (DP). For the service component, he went on a trip to Greece last year which made him realize just how important it is to help others – be it man or animal.

As Dr Anne Faassen, Head of our IB Programme, states, “Upon reaching the Turtle Rescue Centre in Greece last summer, Botond immediately connected with the mission and the purpose of the place. He felt a deep compassion for the injured animals and placed himself wherever he felt he could be useful. It did not matter whether he was cleaning excrement from the turtle tanks or assisting the vet in administering medical care to an animal, Botond completed each task with care and dedication. Within the first few hours of our arrival he told me with total sincerity, ‘We are so lucky to be here.’ He was moved by the plight of the turtles as well as the dedication of other volunteers.”

Botond himself describes his experience as the following, “Already during my time in Greece, I knew that I wanted to do more than what we had accomplished and so that same summer, I went back to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre at Glyfada. I didn’t do this because of CAS but because I felt like it and that there was more to be done to help the turtles. This I believe is what the whole CAS program should be about. I worked from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon cleaning the turtles, fixing their injuries, feeding them and bringing them to the hospital for X-rays in case they had swallowed a hook. During my time at the rescue centre, I saw turtles who suffered from head injuries, turtles who needed operations because of swallowed hooks, turtles who were released back into the wild after years of rehabilitation efforts, among many other things. What I got from this was that we need to have respect towards nature and towards animals. People need to know that if you hit a turtle on the head, he will be in pain. Fishermen need to make the effort of untangling turtles from their fishing nets. There are turtles that have been at the rescue centre for over 10 years and mainly because we do not do enough to preserve their way of life. Turtles are constantly swallowing plastic bags and trash and so we need to start making a change of using less straws, plastic bags and leaving other harmful objects into the sea.”

All in all, Botond would like for everyone to be more aware of their consumption and habits. If everyone thinks that they are just using one straw or one plastic bag, in a world of over 7.7 billion people, then nothing positive can come out of this in the long term. For a better world, remember: Reduce. Recycle. Reuse.

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