Prince & Princess of the Environment SMPN 16

Surabaya- Tunas Hijau visited SMPN 16 today to help decide upon who should be the prince and princess of the environment at the school. 11 students entered the competition and each stood up and gave a speech about what their vision for their school was, what environmental problems they wanted to tackle, and how they planned on making changes.

Some of the students were interested in the leadership position because they were motivated to make changes to better the environment. Others were keen for the new experience and skills they could learn by undertaking such a position. All of the students showed a real interest in making changes to the school, particularly in the way that rubbish, and waste are managed.

After giving their speeches a panel made up of myself, Vijay (another AIESEC intern) and Kevin from Tunas Hijau, and a number of teachers who educate the students about the environment. The students were quizzed on many different topics, from how they would try and reach all the students with information about environmental problems to what they thought the meaning of biodiversity is.

While some of the students had limited knowledge about the details behind some environmental problems such as climate change, and biodiversity proved to be a difficult subject for many, the students were mostly able to take the answers in their stride and came up with some interesting responses. Their level of understanding was also to be expected from students of their age group.

The kids could benefit from some guidance in how to carry out their missions because even though they were enthusiastic and had some great ideas, some of the students seemed uncertain as to how to put their ideas into practise and follow them through. Having said that, no doubt the complexity of implementing their visions would be discussed and refined after election.

Following the speeches we went on a tour of the school so the kids could show us their efforts to recycle, their gardens and their compost system. The gardens had a lot of different kinds of plant and the students were very knowledgeable to their uses. I learned the word ‘jumpa’ which means a medicinal tonic (one of the plants apparently had medicinal properties and could be sliced, dried, and then used in the same way as tea).

We finished our visit with a few rounds of badminton and an impromptu ecodrum performance which the students graciously let us join in on, despite my drastic lack of rhythm.

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