Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eco Club

The Eco (or Green) Club as it is known, is an extracurricular activity at The First Twelve Year Secondary School of Arvaikheer. Though I have started and am involved with various activities specifically at the dormitory, this is the only club at my school that I have worked with this year.
Officially, there are 32 club members, all hand picked by teachers in the school. I take issue with this process, as it appears that students are not given free choice to follow their interests; they are told what club to join, etc. Good for those who have high grades in science and are referred, but what about those interested and may not excel in that academic area? Seems to me this is a leftover viewpoint from the days of communism (whispered)... To further fuel the fire in me on this notion, one of the school social workers told me the governor will come and speak to the graduates, telling them what potential job growth there will be in our city; essentially telling them what to study at university, then to return to Arvaikheer to work. huh....
Back to the eco club...the students and I have floundered through recent months with me preparing power point presentations in both English and Mongolian. This has been fairly effective, but not exactly the enthusiasm I was expecting. I need that dose of reality once in awhile, as I am getting spoiled by what M20 PCV Wally G. calls "celebrity status" accorded to us here in Mongolia.
With the onset of Spring (at least some recent days... just like in my home state of Ohio), the students interest in the Eco Club seems to been peaked. Just in time for a "composting" lesson again. My big plan was for each club member to receive free of charge a medium sized plastic trash can with lid which they would use for composting their household scraps. Viola ! I thought by now we'd have gallons of compost for the gardening projects I have been envisioning.
Our club applied for financial sponsorship through World Vision; a great organization which provides monies to children's' organizations. By the time we got our papers submitted (2 months of missed meetings and lack of translation of my ideas/proposal) it's been over 6 months and now we are actually expecting our requested materials! Too bad I didn't ask for the equipment to build composting bins! I thought just like at home I could find some old cast away materials; boards, wire fencing, etc. Not happening....
In honor of Earth Day, the Eco Club has two weeks of green activities focusing on ecology. Last week our school hosted the annual meeting of all the area Eco Clubs; two of the four other secondary/high schools attended. There was a competition for the high school students (10th and 11th graders) for presentations given on the importance of taking care of the Earth.
In addition, I got to present my PP on the importance of composting, including step by step directions on how to build a compost pile, materials, to use, etc. My club students had been interested in it (they saw it earlier in the week) as were the others in attendance. The instructor form the tech school invited me to their school to give this presentation, and another teacher from my school urged me to present this to all the teachers at our school!
Whether or not this will transpire is another story, however, their enthusiasm encourages me!
Next week at our Eco Club meeting, we will be building compost piles near our school. Prior to that I have much work to be done, finding "free" or "nearly free" materials to build it with, gathering some tools and getting the school director to agree to let us build it in my chosen location.

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