Shortly after çöp(m)adam opened, a teacher from a local elementary school came to the workshop and asked if I would help her start a ban on plastic bags at the market. As much as I was thrilled that she wanted to do this, I said that I would be happy to help out on something that was achievable, or even come to her class. She liked that idea, as did I.
I met Semra’s class as third graders and saw them through fifth grade graduation. I was determined to teach them something that they would incorporate into their own lives. This was in part because I am stubborn and in part as the biggest individual impact we have at the çöp(m)adam workshop is on personal growth rather than changes in behaviour towards anything environmental. If I am totally honest here, there is also the fun factor, as working with 8 – 10 year olds can be quite entertaining.
We cleaned up the town, we celebrated Earth Day, we looked at how long certain materials take to break down, we tried to figure out how to reduce our trash output in a town there there is no recycling. The class worked on skits, wrote poems, set some of them to rap, performed for the school, then again for parents and friends.
What we did not finish up was a colouring book for other children. We started this, complete with cliche drawings of the earth crying or children happy because they are playing in a clean yard. But we did not finish it.
The children became adolescents and a new group came in; class sizes shrunk, the administration changed. But Semra, the teacher, had not lost sight of what we had started. She started the project from the beginning with her new class. About a month ago, I was called in to judge the final drawings.
(as if I have anywhere else to go…)
I thought the quality of the drawings was much better than with the previous class though the children were stumped when I asked them why there was a picture of the planet cleaning itself up as people are the ones who pollute. Three days ago, the class, the teachers and the principal came to the workshop with a copy of the book that they indeed published.
Third graders, published artists, right here in Ayvalik. Way to go children, way to go open-minded teachers.
Another day in the life of the garbage ladies…