U.S. High School Students Are Inspired by the Story of Tonga Torcida and Gorongosa National Park in “The Guide”

After meeting and working with Professor Wilson I fell in to passion
the same way that someone falls asleep: gradually and suddenly, from
one moment to another.—Tonga Torcida

This fall U.S. high school biology students are watching the documentary short film, The Guide, a coming-of-age tale set against the restoration of a war-torn national park in Mozambique. In the film, young Tonga Torcida dreams of becoming a tour guide at Gorongosa National Park, near where he was raised. But when he meets famed biologist E.O. Wilson, his new view of the world around him—and his future—places him at a crossroads. Should Tonga become a guide, or take on a bigger role in trying to keep the park alive?

After watching The Guide, students have been encouraged to share their questions with Tonga through the Gorongosa Park’s Facebook page and by email.

Inspired by Tonga Torcida’s story and his role at Gorongosa National Park, Maria, a U.S. high school student, began a correspondence with him last week. Read below an excerpt from their e-mails.

From: Maria
To: Tonga Torcida
Sep 17th, 4:50am

Hi Tonga! I am a student living in the United States and today in my
biology class, we watched “The Guide” and I was fascinated by you and
your motivation to do more for your country and people. How did you
find your passion to do this job? I was also amazed by your culture
and language in the movie. How was growing up in Mozambique? Also,
what are your plans to change the Gorongosa National Park so it
benefits the people and the wildlife of the area? I want you to know
that what you do is amazing. You will go far in life by doing what you
do best, helping nature and the people around you. Your passion will
take you far and you will change Mozambique and possibly the world.
Best of luck for you. Greetings from America and please write back

From: Tonga Torcida
To: Maria

Dear Maria,

In hope that you are doing well, thank you very much for your e-mail,
watching the film, and letting me know that you have liked it.
I thought that people wouldn’t like it, as you can see it’s from the
country side. And it’s my hope that you are enjoying the study of
Biology and the beginning of Life.

My passion to do this job came out after meeting with Professor
Wilson, previously I had a passion with nature, but not as deep as
that i gained from Dr. Wilson. Before, my goal was to learn about the
forest only so that I could get tips from tourists.

After meeting and working with Professor Wilson I fell in to passion
the same way that someone falls asleep: gradually and suddenly, from
one moment to another. I spent most of my life trying not to cry in
front of people who loved me, but I finished reading the book that he
gave me, loved it, and admit that I cried in some parts of this
beautiful life story that you watched on the movie and till now I have
this passion with this job.

Growing up in Mozambique is not as easy as it is in other places,
especially in places where there are very few opportunities e.g.
Gorongosa/Country side, It needs a lot of courage and efforts.

My plans for Gorongosa are very wide. I want to see Gorongosa
becoming the best place on earth, full of animals, the mountain all
covered by trees and bird-life, Stop illegal harvest of the natural
resources from all over Mozambique. People of Gorongosa and
Mozambique, they can only benefit, if, they are SMART and help me to
achieve these plans in order to save the wildlife in the area and
worldwide. As you can read from the web, Gorongosa is very rich and
it needs a big vision and critical thinking depending on the time and
nature of the people living around it, as you know that people of
today are not people of tomorrow, generations keep changing from one
generation to another generation. After the completeness of my
Bachelors in wildlife Management, I want  to achieve at least 80% of
my plans through SMARTER objectives & organize the park’s resources.
To complete the other 20% will need in the future to go for further
studies at least Masters In wildlife Law Enforcement so that I can
convince politicians and members of parliament to approve and amend
wildlife laws suitable for crimes against natural resources.

Looking forward for you to visit and follow us at www.gorongosa.org

Warm Regards from Mozambique

Tonga Torcida

The Guide is directed by Jessica Yu and produced by Jessica Yu and Elise Pearlstein. The Guide has screened at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and the Aspen Shortsfest.

For further information on The Guide connect to www.facebook.com/theguidedoc

You can find educational materials related to Goronogosa National Park and The Guide at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s BioInteractive website.

Image of a movie poster for The Guide set in Gorgongosa Park.

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