Conducting an Environmental Education Workshop for Teachers in Paraguay
On a camping trip in Paraguay, a PCV met the superintendent of a Paraguayan National Park and began to discuss with him the problems of deforestation and soil erosion. Wanting to take some action, the superintendent set up a time to meet with the PCV to plan an environmental activity. In the meantime, the PCV researched Paraguayan environmental problems by talking with representatives from local and federal government agencies. At their next meeting, the two brainstormed possible approaches and decided to focus on teachers, in an attempt to reach children and their parents.
With financial support from World Wildlife Fund-U.S. and The Friends of Paraguay (an RPCV group), the two men organized a series of three, four-day workshops for teachers on the impact of agricultural practices on natural resources. The events were held in the park, where teachers camped out, living in the natural environment.
As a result of these workshops, teachers began to introduce environmental education activities into their teaching plans. In addition, five communities surrounding the park began nurseries to produce a variety of trees for agroforestry and soil conservation.
Forming a School Ecology Club in Poland
Having a strong interest in the environment, one PCV began to integrate environmental issues into his English class. A Polish colleague suggested he form an after-school ecology club. Excited by the idea, the PCV organized a planning committee of teachers and students, which resulted in a student-run club.
As club members learned more about the environmental problems around them, they began to turn from education to action. They prepared and presented a petition urging community leaders to build a large landfill to replace the three open dumps currently used. They organized a group to clean up the trash on a local river bank, and the older students wrote and performed a play to teach environmental issues to younger students.
Arriving in Belize, one PCV was shocked by the tremendous deforestation he saw in the country. He discussed the subject with his APCD, who suggested he consider how he could best promote the idea of environmentalism. After much thought and brainstorming, the PCV decided to produce a 15-minute educational video highlighting the importance of sustainable forest management, and the "how to's" of community forestry activities.
With financial support from local agencies and businesses, he was able to interest a local film production company in the activity. The "Releaf Belize" video premiered on Earth Day in local schools, with a tree planting ceremony.
The video played to audiences around the country in schools, civic organizations, and to the general public. It aired on local TV and was a stepping stone to a national environmental awareness program. Once the video was produced, the PCV developed a "Tree Bank," making seedlings available throughout the country.
Promoting Earth Day Activities in Costa Rica
For Earth Day, one creative PCV assigned to a small town organized a variety of activities including a parade in which 300 people marched. After the parade some of the marchers picked up trash at the town plaza, while others painted garbage cans.
Prior to the event, at the PCV's suggestion, school children had an Earth Day poster contest, and on Earth Day, the best posters were displayed at the local bank. The townspeople performed typical Costa Rican songs, and recited poems with ecological themes. The day ended with a formal ceremony awarding certificates to those who donated trees for reforestation, followed by a celebration, which was broadcast live on the local radio station.
Promoting Environmental Awareness through Drama in Thailand
Reading an article in the Peace Corps Times about another PCV who had started a drama club focusing on health education, a PCV assigned to a school in northern Thailand immediately saw that drama was a low-cost, low-tech, culturally appropriate means of communication for all ages. To promote environmental awareness, she discussed the idea of starting a drama club with the students and teachers in the school where she taught, and they decided to give it a try.
Receiving a grant from The Canada Fund, the drama club was able to participate in a five-day workshop conducted by a professional theater group. The club members, ranging in age from 13 to 18, wrote the scripts, designed the costumes, constructed sets, and developed choreography to go with their multimedia presentation, including traditional shadow puppetry, musical drama, mime, story theater, and dance.
They took their show on the road to eight districts of the country, reaching thousands of primary and secondary school students. The Canadian Embassy provided a second grant for the production of a video and a three-day tour to Bangkok, which generated national media coverage.
Publishing an Environmental Newsletter in Hungary
Realizing the need to educate the community about local environmental issues, a group of town council members, teachers from the local high school, and a PCV met to discuss the problem. They decided to collaborate and produce a newsletter, free to the general public, addressing the issues of waste disposal, water pollution, and energy conservation.
Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program funded the printing, after the team wrote a proposal at the PCV's suggestion. Eight hundred copies of this 16-page newsletter were published quarterly on recycled paper. The newsletter was unique in educating the public on how to respond to environmental issues at the local level.
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