GATE – German and Turkish Environmental Education Program 2012/2013
In the recipe to build the citizens of tomorrow, two ingredients, in our vision, are essential: environmental awareness and knowledge of other cultures. To combine these two factors, during the winter semester 2012-2013, our student association StAgEz e.V. organized a seminar about the topic “Environmental education in Turkey”.
The project was split in two parts. The first one, funded by the TU, was arranged in Braunschweig. Twenty-eight students, coming from various paths of studies (from Geoecology to Social Sciences) attended the lessons of the seminar, guided by the biologist Antonio Speranza, dealing with diverse aspects related to water.
To help the students to get some knowledge in teaching methods, an excursion to the Regional Centre for environmental Education – Dowesee and the help of two local teachers, Frau Wanzelius and Frau Willenberg, were crucial.
The students, divided in groups, developed different projects: water pollution, water use, water purification, water availability, water cycle, dams.
At the end of the semester, the students set up their projects in the Ricarda-Huch-Schule and in the Hoffmann-von-Fallersleben Schule. They developed really interesting projects, bearing in mind an important principle of education: teaching through playing. “It was my first time to work with children” says Steffen, Social Sciences student; “At the beginning I was pretty nervous, but I felt the pupils liked our project and took actively part in all the activities we proposed”. “It took us several weeks to develop our ideas, but I was proud of our work and of the involvement the children showed” affirms Elena, engineering student.
Also for the teachers it was a positive experience, and they were happy to invite again the students for the next semester.
The second part of the project was realized thanks to the economic support of EU, the agency “Youth in Action” and the collaboration of the Turkish student association “Çevre Koruma Gönüllüleri” from ISIK University – Şile/Istanbul. Aim of the second part was to realize the projects, developed in Germany, in two schools in the municipality of Şile, namely the “75.yil Ilkogretim Okulu” and the “Balıbey İöo”.
During the semester, our students kept contacts with twelve students from Turkey, in order to try to develop the projects together. From the 7th until the 16th of March, eleven German students, accompanied by their teacher Mr Speranza and the coach Petra Wiesinger, flew to Istanbul.
The first three days were dedicated to the discovery of the city. The students, guided by their new Turkish friends, explored the magic of Istanbul. “It was a cultural shock, I have been travelling quite a bit, but I have never seen something like this” are the words of Daria: “Their hospitality, friendship and food were great!”
This impact charged the students to face the following week, during which they had to realize the projects in the school.
But how did the whole procedure go? Mr Speranza says: “Our students had to translate their projects in English, explaining in detail each step. Every afternoon, the German and the Turkish students met to discuss the ideas and to try the projects for the next day. In any class of the schools, two Turkishes and two Germans were busy in working: the former translated all the lessons in Turkish, the latter offered their help and support. The projects were set up in more than twenty-five classes, from the 1st to the 5th grade, quite a bunch of work!”
The feedback was really positive. First of all, the teachers felt engaged with the projects, providing explanations to the pupils and giving active support in the organisation of the work. Then, the pupils liked a lot the practical activities -like games, experiments, discussions- behind each project and were curious about “these foreigners with blue eyes” coming from a far away country to teach them how to protect water resources. And it was really positive also the feeling of being immediately accepted as members of the local community, located on the Black Sea.
The project was such a success that the headmasters of the two schools invited the participants to come again next year.
What has this experience left? Mrs Wiesinger is proud when saying: “It was first of all an important cultural experience for all the students involved. They learnt how to deal with an other culture and with people with personal and professional know-hows different to theirs. It was not always easy, but seeing them working together to reach a common aim indicates that it is possible to overcome difficulties and collaborate with each other to make our world a better place to live in”.
Isn’t it what we all are aiming at?
StAgEz informs that also for the summer semester 2013 the project will be proposed again.