My favourite Malala Yousafzai once said:”One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”. Believing that and committed to to the mission of conserving the environment last Wednesday (11th April 2018), I visited the Saint Cyril and Methodius school in the village of Vedrare, Karlovo, Bulgaria.
Who came with me?
I had 3 lovely helpers-Iliyana, Eva and Mina. I met them this year during the sustainability course organised by For the Earth (За Земята) and this encounter filled me with joy that more and more people are adopting the zero-waste lifestyle and want to spread the word around.
Recently Back2natureasked me about my opinion on working with children and how this experience influenced my life. And I loved this question because it’s one of my favourite activities as part of Revolucia. Children are amazing, they grasp the issues with environmental conservation way more quickly than adults who are always looking for excuses why they shouldn’t act upon and change their habits.
The cuties from 5th and 6th grades greeted us with enthusiasm. We began with the introduction to the “Queen of trash” which was played by Iliyana walking around the classroom with a costume and a crown, decorated with empty packs of food, drinks, cutlery, medicines, etc. The children had to indicate the sources of trash used for the making of the costume. And that question brought silence. The 32 little smarties were puzzled.
We decided to help them out by showing 5 minutes of the film TrashedWorld.The dark picture of our planet swimming in trash saddened the children who jointly said that we can’t keep on littering like this. They were all quite concerned and asked how they could help. And this was the question we were waiting for 🙂
We explained them the process of recycling and how they can separate their trash by putting it in the indicated containers (green for glass, yellow for plastic, blue for paper) but they looked at us in despair and said that there were no recycling containers in the whole village of Vedrare. We came up with a solution immediately, we reminded them that we are the people responsible for our future and the way to tackle this issue is by getting in touch with the local Municipality of Karlovo. We found their contact details and shared them with the children. Let’s see what the institution has to say to the children…
Afterwards we introduced them to the mobile application Litterati which they can use to pin each litter they’ve found on a map and prompt others using the app to join them for a local clean-up. I love how smartphones can be used as a bridge between the old educational methods and children’s hunger for new interesting knowledge. I often hear teachers complaining about children’s lack of interest and attention in class, calling them disrespectful and negligent. I disagree with that, times have changed and we can’t rely on the old “blackboard” and chalk method. After all, who nowadays has a blackboard and a chalk at home? But on the other hand, most of us have smartphones, so instead of confiscating them before class, let’s think of how we can use them to convey our message to the children. Smartphones are not the “root of evil”, they are a means and it’s up to us to choose how to use them.
After introducing the children to Litterati, we decided to check whether we’ve managed to convey our message for planet preservation and invited them to split into teams and clean the school’s courtyard and the area around. They were so enthusiastic that we soon had way too much trash and not enough bin bags.
We came back to the classroom and took a look at the main sources of trash-plastic straws, mineral water bottles, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, etc. We asked the children how this trash could be reduced. They were puzzled again. Then we showed them reusable water bottles, straws, cutlery and their favorite bamboo toothbrushes. They were all excited to have their input in saving the planet. Then the school bell marked the end of the class but the children didn’t feel like going and offered to help us put our bags and the accumulated trash in the car. The trash will be used for an upcycling workshop organised by Keith Kelly and Anglia School.
Just before leaving we spoke to the children’s English teacher, Mrs. Slavena Bozveliyska, who was the main organiser of our visit. In Bulgaria many people complain that the youngsters are leaving but Slavena is definitely an exception that we can be proud of, she is only 27 years old and decided to move from the second biggest city, Plovdiv to the village of Vedrare to share her knowledge and experience with her students 🙂
We are responsible for our own future and for the one of the generations to come so let’s unite forces and give our best for a better world 🙂