Auja Environment Center, Jordan Valley, May 12, 2011
The promise of sweltering temperatures and an unrelenting sun did not materialize, but the promise of laughter, fun and smiles on the faces of Palestinian youth abounded. With almost 200 children from a variety of schools across Palestine coming together to learn about environmental issues, the Auja Environmental Center hosted what was surely the climax of long preparation and hard work by these students on projects ranging from dioramas, GIS training and mapping, to song and dance, all in the name of environmental awareness.
FoEME organized a day event at the Auja Environment Center, where students from seven different schools in Palestine came to learn about some of the key issues challenging their natural environments, hear about what projects other Palestinian youth have been working on, and how individuals can make a difference at the grassroots level.
Arriving in a convoy of buses, the students filed onto the grounds of the Auja Center, exploring the different work stations they would soon spend the day learning about, before a spectacle of song, dance and costumes brought them under the Bedouin Tent for a rousing start to the day. A course of performances, centered on the theme of environmental awareness and sustainability, set the stage for the days activities.
Soon after the performances ended with an elaborate Dekba dance (traditional Palestinian performance), the students separated into seven different groups, each occupying a station set up in or around the environment center. Each station addressed a different environmental issue, varying from: GIS mapping of water and wastewater sights in different communities of Palestine; how to make paper from recycled paper; diorama’s depicting sustainable building concepts; recycling polyester bags into new shopping bags; PowerPoint presentation skills; audio-visual development; and mural painting. The groups spent only 15 minutes at each station before moving on, to ensure all students had a chance to participate in each activity.
It was clear from the enthusiasm to which the kids embraced lunch that their morning was spent running, learning, laughing, and working up an appetite. Dioramas were carefully packed away, good-byes were made, and the buses were once again filled. For the staff of FoEME, at the Auja Environment Center, and all who helped to make the day a success, the smiles on the faces of the kids and the echoes of laughter still resonating off of the walls in the environment center was thanks enough.