From Waste to Best
April 22, 2017
Every time we would return from Kathmandu, the school grounds would look like a battlefield instead of the playing field, ruins of paper and plastic whispering as proofs. We would always wonder what it would look like if it was clean. We would always make a mental note of getting the students together to clean it, but as days passed, the mental note would end up in the stack of to-do lists.
One day, a student submitted a basket made of plastic wrappers as an assignment of practicing recycling. We applauded her skill and showcased her work to the other teachers. But that was all. Meanwhile, the littering problem continued to nag on the back of our minds. When we did conduct a cleanup program, we ended up with mostly half-hearted participants ready to blame each other for the mess. We realized it was not the right way to move forward at least for the time being. Some way or the other we started adjusting to the surrounding, slowly slipping unknowingly into the ways of the past.
We would sit down and reflect at times that maybe we were not able to motivate our students enough. A year went off the Fellowship journey, and with only a year left, we wanted to make the most of our time with our students and direct their energy towards something meaningful.
After coming back from the third Mini-Learning Institute, we came to realize that the motivation was lacking on both ends, the students as well as us. All of us were in the same boat and stuck with no wind. One of us had to grab the paddle and move the boat towards proper direction.
Mini-Learning Institute provided us with the framework of how to become financially independent. It provided us with knowledge that enables us to see resources everywhere, even the littering in the ground started to seem like an asset. After further discussing with students, the project started taking shape. We decided to use resources that were easily accessible to develop students’ creativity and to urge them to turn their ideas into tangibles.
Students have started to speak up, those who refused to participate otherwise now willingly do so and they have started to work as a team. They have got something new to discuss, which they can be found doing around break times. To fuel their enthusiasm, we set a day aside for them to exhibit and sell their products. We divided them into science group and creative group according to their interest. Without even realizing it they are cleaning up the school and having fun with recycling at the same time.
With students filtering raw materials from the waste, we could see them working in their communities as agents of change for the future. We have a feeling there will be a time when the meaning of ‘waste’ will be redefined.After all, “ A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” and the step has been taken.