The last two weeks have been pretty low-key. And I enjoy this down-time, actually. When I first started my internship, there were a lot of workshops, conferences, and meetings, and it was all very exciting. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have attended all those workshops. But now, I’m enjoying focusing on the work and the task at hand. I’m still going to the school and giving my lesson plans, and I also love having this little break in the week. It’s such a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and try to teach some impactful lessons.
Week 15’s lesson was about plastic, and how it is a problem globally. In some parts of Lurín, a decent amount of plastic can be seen littered on the streets and lining ditches. And every time I go to the school, I pick a few plastic scraps out of the garden. So I explained to the children how all this plastic on the streets and in the grass affects the health of the community, the health of the environment, their health, and why they should care. Lima, like my hometown of Tampa, Florida, is a coastal city and all this trash (much of it plastic – bags, bottles, forks, bottle caps, lighters, etc.) has a very high probability of blowing into the ocean (or in the case of Tampa, the Gulf of Mexico). 80% of ocean pollution enters the water from land. And plastic never goes away, rather it simply breaks down into smaller pieces.This of course is bad for the environment because fish and other sea creatures don’t always know the difference between zooplankton and shredded plastic bits. As plastic is made from oil, it’s quite toxic to ingest, and can oftentimes kill the animal that ate the plastic. And then it’s also possible for it to go through the food chain. Bigger fish eat the smaller fish, some crabs eat fish, octopuses eat crabs, and in Lima where ceviche is a popular dish, sometimes we humans eat those fish and other sea creatures whom have eaten plastic. Cows, dogs, birds, ducks and other land or air animals sometimes also eat plastic. And again, it’s possible for us to eat those cows and ducks. This information blew the kids’ minds.
So what can we do about all this plastic? Well, of course we can recycle. But if there is no recycling infrastructure or center, what can we do? We can reuse the plastic bottles that are so prevalent and make planter pots of out them! And this was our activity after my lesson about plastic and the environment. We cut plastic bottles, added a mixture of compost, soil, and manure to them, and placed red pepper and papaya seeds in each one. The kids loved it.
Week 16: Our lesson was about seed (semillas) saving. Almost all fruits and vegetables have seeds. When we save seeds, we can grow more food and help ensure our food security for the future. It makes sense for us to save seeds, as we have a garden. We can also save lots more plastic bottles and in time have a ton of little sprouts and seedings going. I told the kids that all the pepper seeds I brought the previous week were from one pepper, and one kid’s eyes got so big; he couldn’t believe so much could come from one pepper, not much bigger than the size of a fist.
I also explained to the kids that it’s important to save seeds in a community (or country, and everywhere in the world, really) where agriculture is practiced. In the case of climate change and more severe weather patterns, more or less rainfall, flash floods, extreme dry season and other changes in the weather where it’s possible to lose crops, having a community seed bank can be a lifesaver. Big industrial agriculture and GMO seeds simply generate new seeds and ship them to the farmers. But saving seeds the old fashioned way and sharing them with our neighbor when needed is an investment in our future, and our food security.
Again, the overall theme of the lessons are waste as a resource: food waste (compost), plastic (planters), seeds (more plants). I’m nearing the end of my internship and have two more school visits planed. Next week is drawing the big picture together and the last one is reflexions.
Fun fact: the weekend between week 15 & 16 was my 30th birthday. My mom came down from Florida and we started this new decade on a fun note. We went to San Lorenzo and the Palomino Islands off the northern Lima coast and saw sea lions (thousands of them!). And I have to say, being here in the middle of this amazing experience is a great way to spend a birthday.